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Police department’s new space has room for growth

Falcon News Service

September 14, 2021

The relocation of the River Falls Police Department (RFPD) from its former downtown location to 2815 Prairie Drive within the Whitetail Ridge Corporate Park has been “very smooth,” said Police Chief Gordon Young.

Home to 25 sworn police officers, 21 reserve officers and three civilian staff members, the RFPD was finally able to escape the “maze,” which is what some officers had labeled the building at 125 East Elm St. Completed on April 1, the move addressed the long-standing need for an upgrade of the police station’s resources, chiefly its need for more space.

The new facility provides nearly twice as much space as the previous one, standing at 27,000 square feet. The acquisition price for the building was $1.5 million, and the cost of the renovations totaled $3 million, making the total for the relocation $4.5 million.

Originally, the city council approved $7.5 million for the construction of a new facility in 2018, but the decision to pivot and purchase the old RiverTown Multimedia Corporation building in 2019 ended up saving the city $3 million. The former downtown building on Elm Street remains vacant as it awaits a new tenant.

“It was a no-brainer,” said Mayor Dan Toland.

Aside from the dramatic increase in operating space, which Young referred to as a “night and day difference,” there was also a consolidation of the department’s records management system. Now, all of RFPD’s records are filed electronically, which is a method that has been adopted by the entirety of St. Croix County’s police departments. Young credited RFPD’s information technology department for relocating the station’s equipment, as well as setting up the new records management system, calling it “instrumental.” Other new amenities in the repurposed facility include new microphones, speakers and an Emergency Operations and Training Center. Young said that the facility is now capable of hosting regional training sessions.

The city of River Falls has been experiencing steady growth, a reality that both Young and Toland acknowledged as rationale for why the relocation of the police station was a priority. This expansion was certainly accounted for, as Young said that the new station has “space for growth for decades.”