Editor's note: This is one of a three part series covering Skokie's new police station.
When commander Michael Pechter joined the Skokie Police Department in 1989, the force only had one computer.
After 54 years, the department is finally getting an upgrade, with a high-tech, $31 million state-of-the-art facility. The massive 80,000-square-foot building at 7300 Niles Center Road is about half complete and on target for its Oct. 3 opening.
Patch.com was invited for an exclusive tour of the new station, its firing range, holding cells and offices.
"Every room is going to be computer-ready now," Pechter said. "We're even going to have high-definition monitors throughout the hallways with status updates so officers can see who's on duty and which squad car they're driving."
The "old" station at 8350 Laramie Ave. was built in 1956, and served as both a courthouse and police station. Pechter said the old station had some irritating tendencies.
"When officers are in the basement shooting their guns [in the firing range] you can hear a banging noise all the way on the second floor," he said. "That gets annoying quick."
His excitement can be seen immediately as he parks his squad car inside the climate-controlled garage.
"There's a lot of computers and other high-tech stuff inside a squad car," he said. "Weather affects all that stuff, so now that we have a climate-controlled garage, we don't have to worry about that. And we won't be wasting time shoveling snow to get the cars out either."
Function over form, that's Pechter's motto. For the last seven years he has been working closely with peers and SRBL Architects, the designers of the building, on making everything as efficient as possible.
"We've got 80,000 square feet of efficient space, and it's all on one floor," he said. "The old station was built in 1956 and that was 30,000 square feet of un-efficient space."
The new facility is also going to be equipped with more than a dozen high-def televisions for training, status updates and surveillance.
Yet those are nothing compared with the 116-inch TV that will be located in the Emergency Operations Center.
"It's going to have Madden-like features," Pechter said, referring to the popular football video game. "If we're watching video of a hostage situation, I'm going to be able to pause the screen and draw stuff out like you see during a football game."
Bob Nowak, director of finance for the Village of Skokie, said the new police station will be funded through village issued bonds. He said the village sold the bonds in August 2009 and adopted a 3 percent telecommunications tax to pay back the interest on the bonds.
Nowak said the entire project is in $31 million range. That price tag includes the building, land, construction and other items.
"We positioned Skokie so we can build a new police station and not raise the property tax," Nowak said. "We might even be coming in under budget."