New 12th District Police station now in operation
January 4, 2013
The new District 12 police station features both Chicago’s standard police station architecture and extra improvements. (Photo by Troy T Heinzeroth)

A new 12th District police station is open, replacing the old 12th and 13th District stations and combining their operations.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, four aldermen, and other officials including the district’s new commander at a Dec. 15 ribbon-cutting ceremony at the station, at 1412 S. Blue Island Ave. The district also will be known as the Near West Police District.

Melissa Staples, a 21-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, is now commander.

At the ceremony, she said, “The new facility will allow officers to do their jobs more efficiently.”

McCarthy said combining the districts is part of the ongoing streamlining of the police department. It will eliminate a “redundant administrative structure,” and will put more officers on the street. Saving money is “the last reason” for the change, he said, noting “the single-most important thing” is more officers out on duty.

The station will be home base for the largest number of officers in all the districts — more than 500, Emanuel said. He added that the Police Department is “only as good as its partners — concerned community members,” as he urged residents and businesses to work more closely with police.

About 150 community residents attended the ribbon-cutting.

“It is nice for the neighborhood,” said Rose Crenshaw, a resident of the ABLA Brooks Homes.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Tammie Slugg, a Loomis Courts resident.

Many of the visitors took guided tours. Since the move into the station was not complete, no prisoners were in the 14 one-person cells, the padded one-person cell, or the four group-holding cells.

The 44,000 square foot station is state-of-the-art, said Frank Sobkowiak, deputy, Department of Construction for the Public Building Commission, which oversees City projects of this kind.

While the Near West station is the City’s 14th with a similar design, each is slightly different because of evolving ideas. “You can see the progression,” he said. “It is going to be a LEED Gold” (certified eco-friendly) because it is self-sufficient in energy, Sobkowiak said. Storm water and waste water flush the toilets.

Eighty-eight wells provide geothermal energy for heating and air conditioning. This is the first City police station to have these features, although the neighboring firehouse has them as well. The police station also has a partially green roof.

The $21.5 million cost was more than 18% under budget, said Erin Lavin Cabonargi, executive director of the Public Building Commission.

For more information, call the 12th District at (312) 746-8396.

— Susan S. Stevens