Aug. 15 is moving day for Cameron Police Department

The Cameron Police Department's new home is the former DHS building at 604 W. 4th St. The exterior of the 1957 vintage building has been renovated with stucco and new brick on the front facade.

Workers in the training room facility inside the new Cameron Police Department/Municipal Court facility. At the end of 2015, the city purchased the former DHS building at 604 W. 4th Street to remodel for a new police station. The building was originally built in 1957 as a Safeway grocery store. The building’s interior is being re-configured to include a new municipal courtroom and auxiliary facilities, new dispatching area, CPD offices, evidence storage and other facilities as well as a multi-purpose training room which can be used for both local and regional training events.

 

The Cameron Police Department is the last city department to move out of the municipal building on Houston Street - a location acquired by the Cameron City Council in 1895 when lots were purchased from the Baptist Church, according to a report in the Sept. 12, 1895 edition of The Cameron Herald. 

The original fire station portion of the building is shown in a vintage photo. The building was expanded in 1952 to include city hall, water department and police department facilities.

 

Aug. 15 is “moving day” for the Cameron Police Department to take up quarters in the new police station/municipal court facility at 604 W. Fourth Street. 

The city purchased the former DHS building in December with plans to remodel it as a police/municipal court facility. Remodeled in the 1980s for DHS, the building located just a few blocks from the Milam County Sheriff’s Department and Jail was originally constructed in 1957 as a Safeway Store.

The city council approved  $240,000 for the purchase and remodeling of the facility. Police Chief Randy Dixon’s monthly reports to the council show the project is on schedule and on budget, thanks to grant funds, materials, equipment and furniture obtained through government surplus programs and other sources. In addition, city crews helped with the interior demolition and cleaning in preparation for interior work, most of which is being done by CPD staff who are contractors or have construction experience.

Dixon said the Central Texas Council of Governments is helping move the department’s radio, 9-11, telephone and CopSync auto download system for the on-board computers starting Aug. 15. 

CTCOG is also donating a generator to run the 9-11 Center and the recorder/radio system, Dixon noted. That generator will be a back-up to the large generator that will be moved from the existing police facility on Houston Street.

During the move, Rockdale PD will handle Cameron 9-1-1 calls and Cameron officers on patrol during the days of the move will depend on cell phones and short-range radios, Dixon said.

Interior of the building is being re-configured to provide a secure entry way with separate, secured reception windows for the municipal court and the police department. A larger courtroom with offices and a secured jury room are included in the court facilities.

The 9-11 Center will have a larger work area specially designed for those functions, as well as a chief dispatcher’s office.

The police department side will have offices/work spaces for all staff as well as secured “interview” areas and a separate area with outside access for juveniles brought in for questioning. Storage in the new facility will be a welcome addition as well.

The facility will also include a training room suitable for holding classes both for local officers and regional groups, Dixon said. 

“We are lining up training already,” he told the City Council. “In September, we will be holding classes in report writing, criminal investigation and some of the classes required by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement,’ Dixon said. “Having our own place to so this will allow us to hold classes on a much more frequent basis.”

The building’s exterior has also been spruced up with stucco and bricking across the front - as well as extra security and reinforced entrance doors. Officials hope to some day fence the large parking lot as well. The grounds have space for an outdoor storage unit.

While there’s lots to be done, Tony Maskunas, contractor and CPD officer, said everything will be ready for moving day. 

The Cameron Police Department is the last city department to move out of the municipal building at 308 S. Houston St. - a location acquired by the Cameron City Council in 1895 when two lots were purchased from the Baptist Church and Masonic Lodge, according to a report in the Sept. 12, 1895 edition of The Cameron Herald. (A copy of the hand-written deed in the Milam County Clerk’s records confirms the Herald’s report.)

The facility on Houston Street was built around the turn of the 20th century as a fire station. A wing was added in 1952 for city hall, the water department and CPD. 

According to a report in The Cameron Herald, the $45,000 building permit made that expansion one of the major public facilities improvements of 1952. 

A small jail was added on the back in 1959. The dedication ceremonies included breaking a bottle of water from the city’s newly approved filtration plant.

After the fire department moved to new facilities on N. Travis Street in 1981, the old municipal building was remodeled again in 1983 and later that decade, converting the fire department bay into a municipal courtroom/council meeting room as well as adding dropped ceilings and paneling for the offices. 

In 2002, city hall functions moved to the McLane Municipal Center in the restored Green building a few blocks away, leaving the police department and court facilities as the only tenants of the aging building. 

The old municipal building has deteriorated to the point that it will probably no longer be used after police and municipal facilities are relocated to the new 604 W. 4th St. location, City Manager Rhett Parker said.

As it reaches the end of its lifespan, it will be vacant for the first time in more than 100 years.