New Georgia Tech Police Department Building Equipped to Protect Campus, Host Community
Georgia Tech Police Department Honor Guard accompanies Georgia Tech officials cut the ribbon on the new GTPD Police Department building. From left, Honor Guard Officer Cassandra Davis, First Lady Val Peterson, President G.P. "Bud" Peterson, Interim Executive Vice President of Administration and Finance Jim Fortner, GTPD Chief Robert Connolly, University System of Georgia Chief of Police Bruce Holmes, Director of Emergency Preparedness William Smith and Honor Guard Officer Jessica Howard.
When Georgia Tech leaders cut the ribbon July 11, 2019, on the new Georgia Tech Police Department Building at the corner of Hemphill Avenue and 10th Street, they also effectively opened the doors and laid out a welcome mat for the community.
The new, state-of-the-art 30,000 square-foot facility unifies the department from five separate buildings across campus, allowing divisions to better collaborate to keep the campus safe and engage with the surrounding neighborhoods.
“During the design process, GTPD members expressed the desire that their new home would be an inviting place that made visitors feel welcome when they came in,” said Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson. “The lobby is illuminated with natural daylight and has an area that allows us to feature community art. The underlying idea is that our police want to be partners with the Georgia Tech community to underscore that we’re all part of the same team when it comes to public safety.”
Preparation of the site began in July 2017, and officers began occupying their new headquarters in June 2019. Key features of the building include:
- A high-tech operations center with the capacity to expand to a multipurpose center capable of supporting emergency response.
- Simulation and training room with video and computer equipment to run realistic scenarios.
- Forensics laboratory to conduct testing on site. Previously, the testing would have been done at state labs with lengthy response times.
- A new kennel to house K9 units. For the first time, the K9s and their handlers will have a dedicated space, including a shower room so the dogs can get clean after long shifts in the heat.
- A sallyport for holding suspects while arrest reports are filed. While there is no space for confining suspects, the sallyport is more secure than leaving suspects in the patrol car until transport to a different facility.
“This building is a direct reflection of our department’s personality: engaging, functional, and innovative,” said William Smith, Georgia Tech’s director of Emergency Preparedness and project leader for the new building. “It was my task to ensure the design team never lost sight of this intent. We wanted the building to support how we operated and wanted to operate, rather than the opposite.”
The ribbon cutting was preceded by the unveiling of a plaque honoring the service of GTPD Sgt. Gary Beringause, who was killed in the line of duty in 1986. Beringause, who served with GTPD for 14 years, was on escort assignment for the Georgia Tech football team on Nov. 28, 1986, when he and Assistant Athletic Director Jim Luck were killed when their vehicle was struck by a jack-knifing tractor trailer. Members of the Beringause family were on hand for the unveiling of a plaque commemorating his service and officially naming the building’s large meeting space the Sgt. Gary F. Beringause Community Room.
“He is not forgotten, and all those who step inside that room will be able to read about his contributions,” Peterson said.
Located on the first floor of the GTPD building, the Beringause Community Room is available for outside groups and will serve as a resource for the Georgia Tech and Home Park communities.
“This building is for the community,” said GTPD Chief Robert Connolly. “It helps us serve them, and we’re glad to be able to have them come in here and make use of the facility for their meetings and be an active part of how we serve the campus and surrounding neighborhoods.”