New East Oakland Precinct Brings Hope to Community
When the Oakland Police Department needed a new precinct for the East Oakland community, numerous city council meetings were held to debate where the new police station would be located. The issue centered on whether to house the new precinct in the existing downtown headquarters, or to utilize a neighborhood location that had been used in previous years. In the end the advantages of decentralized, full-service neighborhood police station had much to offer.

A neighborhood police station had the potential to not only decrease the response time for emergency and non-emergency calls, but also would enable local residents to become more involved in decreasing crime in a neighborhood that had seen a steady increase in criminal activity over many years. By agreeing to finance the $12 million dollar project, the residents of East Oakland showed they wanted to take back their neighborhood and welcomed the positive influence that a nearby police presence could bring.

The new precinct was to be built where a department store dating back to the 1960's was currently located, in the Eastmont Town Center. The 64,000 square foot structure would need to be upgraded to meet current code requirements. Major structural changes had to be overcome. Heavy steel tube braces were installed and sheer walls were added to strengthen the existing building. The building had to undergo stringent earthquake safety upgrades, and special provisions had to be made to ensure uninterrupted phone and radio communications should an earthquake or other disaster occur.

San Francisco based architectural firm Michael Willis Architects, was selected to undertake the planning and design of the new facility. From the start, Michael Willis Architects had the idea to create a contemporary space that would reflect a nonthreatening message that police officers are an integral part of a neighborhood and responsible for serving the community needs. The new precinct station is an indisputable break away from traditional institutional design and a refreshing reflection of the revitalization that is sweeping the law enforcement profession. The new East Oakland precinct station reflects this with a design that focuses on efficiency, comfort and aesthetic details.

The structure's interior has a modern appearance that makes use of bright colors as large windows and skylights pour natural light into the building. Additionally, because the station also acts as a temporary holding facility, both security and privacy were of the utmost importance. Offices located throughout the premises required soundproofing and various security features to ensure detainees and victims could discuss cases with investigators, counselors, and lawyers without being overhead and without being placed in danger.

The majority of the doors and windows of the Eastmont police facility were largely provided by Walters & Wolf, a Bay Area firm specializing in doors, hardware, and glass extension systems. Jim McWhorter (of Walters & Wolf) was familiar with the expertise and professional services offered by Krieger Specialty Products. "Very few companies are capable of doing what Krieger does," Jim stated. "They consistently provided exceptional quality, pricing, and customer service. And they stand behind every product."

To meet the architect's specification requirements, Krieger provided Walters & Wolfs with thirty-six, STC-53 rated wood acoustical doors, equipped with 20-minute fire labels. The complete acoustical assemblies included 3 ft. x 8 ft. doors and steel frames with cam-lift hinges, aluminum thresholds and operating hardware that insured accurate and quick installation at the jobsite. Dave Scott, project superintendent of South Bay Construction, located in Campbell, California, was highly impressed with the expert packaging of the product, as well as the timely delivery. White maple veneer doors arrived at the jobsite unstained, and were finished by the construction crew to match the standard non-acoustical doors. As an added precaution, all closers on interview room doors were installed on the exterior side to prevent individuals from removing the metal pieces and using them as weapons.

The East Oakland Police Precinct has become an important landmark and anchor in the community. Bill Claggett, director of Oakland's Community and Economic Development Agency, says, "This center is the first resource of its kind, and it shows you can change an eyesore into a great asset. The inside of the structure is absolutely beautiful." The East Oakland Police Precinct is expected to be fully occupied by fall of 2003. It will become a 24-hour-a-day base of operations for East Oakland patrol officers and criminal investigators, and will house a 320 person staff, including 265 officers.
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