DEL CITY — It's been a long time coming, but the doors of the new Del City Police Department headquarters and municipal court were opened to the public Thursday.
City and state officials, residents, law enforcement and others turned out during the midday heat for the building's dedication to the only Del City police officer to ever die in the line of duty.
The new building on SE 29 just east of Sunnylane Road is named after William Haskell Keith, who died in 1965 following an accident during a high speed pursuit. He was 26 years old.
Many of Keith's surviving family members attended the dedication and open house.
“We've been talking about this day since I walked into the old station in 1980,” Assistant Chief of Police John Smith said.
Del City was incorporated in 1948 and moved into the old police building in 1950. Several speakers at the dedication joked about how outdated the old station was, lacking hot water and cramped because the force had been outgrowing its headquarters for more than 60 years.
The old police building to the west on Epperly Drive will be demolished.
Planning began in '79
Planning of the 18,000 square-foot building came in fits and starts beginning as early as 1979. Design and engineering of the headquarters finally began in 2008. Construction started in September 2010 and the building was completed in March 2012.
The $4 million headquarters was paid for with a temporary sales tax. New amenities include a bright and spacious courtroom.
The jail can hold ten individuals and includes a drunk tank. Walls in the cells and in the hallway are painted pink.
Police Chief Phil Taylor said the soft pink walls have a calming effect on the prisoners.
“I think it does help, and it doesn't hurt,” he said.
Inside the building is a state-of-the-art dispatch center, laundry and shower areas, more than 32 surveillance cameras and enhanced security. Doors to the Sally Port where prisoners are brought in close automatically after 60 seconds, and public access doors are timer controlled.
The headquarters also has geothermal heating and cooling.
House Democratic Leader Scott Inman, D-Del City, said he was proud of the new debt-free headquarters for the community's law enforcement.
“This is a game-changer for our community,” he said.