FAIRMONT - Remodeling over the past year and a half at the law enforcement center in Fairmont have not only eased congestion, but made it easier for the public to navigate.
"We're working with a limited amount of space, yet we still need to provide our best service to the public," said Martin County Sheriff Capt. Corey Klanderud. "We're using our space more efficiently now."
The landlocked law enforcement center has faced crowding issues for the past 10 to 15 years. While the remodeling doesn't solve all of the problems, it has alleviated some.
LOTS?TO?MONITOR?— Dispatcher Lacy McNicol works at one of the new dispatch stations in the back of the law enforcement center in Fairmont. The dispatch center was relocated away from heavy traffic areas.
Dispatchers were once front and center at the law enforcement center. Because they weren't able to wait on people who came into the lobby, a wall was put up between the dispatch stations and the counter. However, that meant the first thing someone coming into the lobby would see was a giant wall.
Meanwhile in other offices, several desks were squeezed together, making for tight quarters for sheriff's deputies.
Today, secretaries for both the Fairmont Police Department and the Sheriff's Office are near the front window, while offices in back have been converted from traditional desks to large counters for shared working space.
The dispatch center is now in a back office, away from office traffic flow.
Part of what prompted the remodeling were upgrades needed to start using ARMER, which is a new communications system.
"It was Nov. 1, 2012, that we started moving deputies out of their office," Klanderud said. "But it turned out to be a bigger project than we thought it'd be."
Moving the dispatch centers was beneficial to dispatchers and the public.
"When people are coming to the law enforcement center, it's usually not a pleasant reason," said Martin County Sheriff Jeff Markquart. "We wanted to be more accessible and personable; more user-friendly."
Visitors will now find secretaries from the police department and Sheriff's Office at the front window. For citizens visiting inmates, a digital system allows for face-time visits. Video kiosks allow visitors to see and speak with inmates without having to maneuver inmates out of their cells.
"People can [visit] from home just by logging onto their computer," Klanderud said. "Or they can come to the visitation room."
There are some of these digital visitation kiosks in some jail cells and, for other inmates, a portable one that can be wheeled in at visitation time.
"Our goal is to eventually have one installed in every cell," Klanderud said. "It reduces the inmate movement."
With more visibility and user-friendly facilities, the Sheriff's Office hopes to alleviate confusion and frustration some visitors may face.
"I know we've had people come in and say they spoke to an officer," Markquart said. "But they don't have a name, they can't remember if they were wearing a brown or blue uniform; we're all just 'the cops' to them."