The Police Triangle: Catering to an Officer’s Need
How a police station can ease the stress of its most important occupant – the police officer
One of the unrecognized tools to equip police officers in their work is the police station itself. This unique building type should celebrate the culture of the patrol officer. However, many existing facilities miss the mark, as nothing in the architecture considers the needs of officers coming in and out of the building every day. Out on the beat, theirs can be a solitary, disenfranchising experience that is beset by boredom, punctuated with conflict and sometimes danger. The police station should be an icon of safety, relief and shared mission that caters to these men and women who serve and protect their communities.
Police stations are, at their heart, about the patrol officer. They are the lifeblood of a police agency, and the efficiency of movements in their brief time in the station is the key to their success. A police station should work to keep an officer on his or her beat versus binding them up in a building that potentially can create more stress if not designed properly.
One of the keys to successful police station design is to place the critical elements of the patrolman’s process in close proximity. These critical areas include the staff entry, the locker rooms, briefing rooms, bag-and-tag areas, equipment pickup, patrol duty bags and finally the exit to squad cars. The speed and ease of this process is the key to efficiency by getting the building “out of the way,” thus improving response times and minimizing frustrations. We refer to these critical adjacencies as the “Patrol Triangle."
In police facility designs, we go out of our way to facilitate an obvious and understandable triangle, between patrol officer entry (from cars), locker rooms, and patrol briefing and debriefing areas. There is a desire for immediate adjacency to locker rooms to change and then move seamlessly to the neighboring patrol command area. Turning toward the patrol vehicles, the officers will find carrels with duty bags for quick pick-up. Equipment/key check-out is on the way to the cars, but a wide corridor (8-feet wide) is essential to allow groups of officers carrying equipment and bags to easily pass by each other.
Following a shift, moving in the opposite direction, an officer will find evidence drops, interview rooms and mailboxes in quick succession. At the end of this path are the on-duty sergeants, report-writing stations to complete the process, before changing and heading home.
The location and treatment of the patrol triangle is a purposeful move to build camaraderie, pride and support for staff who feel the pressures of protecting our communities every day.