Police Department begins a new chapter
By Randy Dixon
Cameron Police Chief
A new chapter in the annals of the Cameron Police Department began this past week.
I am sure by now most of you who live here in Cameron have driven by and viewed the new home of the Cameron Police Department. The Cameron Police Department has bid adieu to the old station which was located on South Houston for the last number of years. It was rather bitter sweet in the move but Department has far outgrown the old structure and outgrown the space to accommodate the different areas to include the municipal court at that location.
It was my understanding the historic building house the first Cameron Fire Department which staffed with a horse drawn fire wagon. Historians of Cameron history have told me the fire department used to house the horses, the hay, and a sliding pole where the fire chief would slide down the pole from his residence which was located on the top floor of the structure. It turned into a motorized fire department, then to a city hall/police station, then to just a full blown police station, with an attached courtroom, meeting room.
Historians have told me many tales and stories about the building to include a tale of a ghost who occupies the building. Who knows what tall tales are told about the building. I personally have never seen any such spirit forms but stranger things have happened.
However, I am proud to say, that through the forward thinking of Cameron City Manager Rhett Parker and the sitting Council, the city has moved forward and has one of the finest police stations in the area. I do think it is important that the readers of this column who are also Cameron taxpayers understand the good deal or the good bang for the buck they received out of this new building.
True this building is over 50 years old. This building started out as a grocery store, then a state office building and now, a city police station. But how did we get here to this?
When it became very clear a new police station was needed, Mr. Parker started the process of brainstorming for a place to move. The first thing was to find a location and then a possible layout of the building itself. Several locations were found that would fit the needs of the city and its’ citizens then a basic floor plan was outlined. The floor plan, drawn by one of CPD officers’ brother (saving a great deal of money) was about a 4,500 to 5000 square foot building with compacted space usage.
A few companies took these plans and came up with some costs close to $2 million or thereabouts based on the estimated square footage. During this process, the old CPS building on West 4th became available at an extremely reasonable price. Though not brand new, the possibility was such that Cameron could purchase the building, renovate it for the police department and spend an amount that did not require any tax increase and or bonds to be issued.
How could this be done? After taking the basic floor plan that was in place, the city staff looked at what was needed for develop a modern police and courts building. The plan was hand drawn and the construction was put into place.
The city did not hire a professional construction company to do all the work. A police officer who owned and ran his own construction business in years past was loaned to renovate the building. The officer and two helpers are in the process of completing all the work that has taken place with the exception of the electrical, AC, plumbing and mason work which was contracted out by the city. The complete interior renovation was completed by city staff and volunteers to the cause. This in itself self has saved tens of thousands of dollars. But that was not all the savings to the taxpayer.
This building will have a state of the art training room for area law enforcement which was paid for by a $10,000 grant written by your chief of police. In addition, grant funds also paid for the move of the antenna system and radio system from the old to the new building. This in itself was close to $15,000.
That is only a fraction of the savings though ... a move to an new building also included the moving of the complete 911 system and recording system. This project, of at least $10,000, was accomplished by securing funding from a regional entity. This entity also furnished a $25,000 generator system for the building and cabinets for the 911 Center. Now that in itself, just the previous items listed, saved the taxpayers over $50,000 or more. But that again was not where the savings stopped.
A number of years ago, I researched and signed Cameron PD up for the government dispersal to law enforcement system known as the 1033 program. Through this program, over the last year, totally free except for transporting, CPD has received over $1.1 million of valued items with much of these items being used to construct the new police station. Chairs, desks, computer, tables, fencing, iron works, storage buildings, trailers, generators, tools, safety supplies, riding lawn mower, motorized transport cart, Kawasaki Mule, front end loader, dump truck, diesel pickups, and many more items have been received from the government as part of this program. Needless to say, this again is a win-win for the citizens of Cameron.
We are officially in the new station and will soon have an open house. We hope the citizens of Cameron are as proud of this structure as we are to work and serve you.
For those who don’t know, on Saturday mornings at 11 a.m., listen to my segment on KMIL “The Ranch” titled the Voice of Law Enforcement.