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Independence police seek new campus despite thousands in recent upgrades

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Posted at 3:36 PM, Jan 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-10 23:34:09-05

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — The Independence Police Department wants a new campus despite hundreds of thousands of dollars that went into improving its current facility over the past several years.

The details are laid out in an agenda from Monday's city council study session.

Water leaks, damaged lighting and minimal space for training are just some of the reasons the building is deemed "unsafe, inefficient and harmful to recruiting."

The department also reports frequent internet, HVAC and power outages due to the old infrastructure.

Attached to the agenda are images from inside the building that shows the extent of the damage.

Background on building maintenance
Last year, the I-Team first exposed a police office worked 2,800 in overtime, earning more than $169,000 in OT alone, to remodel the building.

The I-Team first took a tour of the facility to show the upgrades, which mostly included paint, carpeting and new cabinetry.

The revelation angered citizens who expressed concerns over both removing an officer from the streets to do handy work and the cost of the overtime that was ultimately foot by taxpayers.

The overtime prompted city manager Zach Walker to order an audit of the department's finances.

The main officer in question was cleared of any wrongdoing, as the city didn't have any rules in place to limit the amount of overtime performed or the type of work performed.

Walker told the I-Team he was informed some upgrades would be made to the facility but was not aware of the extent nor the amount of overtime accrued.

The audit could not confirm either way if anyone within city hall new the extent of the work.

Four other police officers also logged overtime remodeling the building.

Covering the cost of a new campus
To cover the costs of a new campus, city staff recommends seeking voter approval for a 3% sales tax on marijuana in April. The funds would be allocated to the police department.

According to city staff, only 1% of city sales tax is allocated to police.

How IPD headquarters compares to other police campuses
The agenda includes a graph that shows the campus in Independence is severely outdated compared to other local municipalities.

Police headquarters was built in 1973.

KCMO Shoal Creek has the second oldest building, built in 2006. Followed by KC Metro North built in 2010.

Most of the local police headquarters were built in 2015 and beyond.

The plan doesn't lay out an estimated cost for the new headquarters.

According to city staff, $1.8 million is spent on the dated facility each year.

The I-Team has reached out to both the city manager and police Chief, Adam Dustman, for comment. The chief took KSHB 41 on a tour to show the issues within the building.

Dustman said the previous upgrades were to cover the most extreme, health-related issues. Adding, the upgrades aren't enough to mitigate all the problems from an old and deteriorating building.