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"We are out of space" -- how North Port Police ran out of room at HQ

City leaders say they're working on a solution but it won't come quickly, or cheap.
North Port Police Station
Posted at 10:24 PM, Mar 13, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-13 22:48:40-04

NORTH PORT, Fla. — The North Port Police Department is currently facing its own 911 emergency.

Deputy Chief of Police Chris Morales told North Port's Community Correspondent Victoria Scott the station is 185% over capacity.

“We are out of space here at headquarters,” Morales said. "The problem actually existed and became noticed to the agency back in 2017 when our Property and Evidence Crime Scene started to run out of space and room for storage of all of our property and evidence in the department.”

However, that's only part of a much bigger picture.

“We’ve turned closets into offices. We’ve turned conference rooms into offices. We’ve turned what were once holding cells into storage for property evidence."

Deputy Chief of Police Chris Morales, North Port Police Department

Police officials said they are even looking at putting portable trailers in the back parking lot to free up some space. However, they said that brings its own sets of challenges, too.

“There’s going to need to be added security measures, re-fencing, and some re-positioning of equipment and logistics to have these trailers put in place here in the back of headquarters," Morales said.

North Port leaders say they recognize the issue. The city manager is currently working with staff and consultants to create detailed plans on what the new facility will look like. One option costs around $122 million.

"The biggest thing before all of that happens is the voters will have to approve if they're going to help pay for this through millage rates or bonds," said North Port Commissioner Debbie McDowell.

It's a price tag residents will need to consider carefully.

"When your growth outweighs your public safety services, that becomes problematic," Morales said. "You don't want to be behind the curve; you want to be ahead of the curve."

Residents are encouraged to attend a town hall on the police facility next week. It will be held at city hall.