Daphne moving forward with plans to expand 30-year-old justice center
DAPHNE, Ala. (WALA) - Daphne’s Justice Center is bursting at the seams and will soon be getting a major expansion. The building on Highway 98 houses Daphne’s municipal court and magistrate office, police administration and detective division along with city jail.
It provided plenty of space in 1995 when Daphne’s population was only about 13,000. Since then, the population has nearly tripled, there are now three city magistrates instead of one and the police force has expanded. The space has not. One of the most trying times is on court days.
“Tuesdays, on court days are very, very busy,” said Heather DeAngelo with Daphne Police. “If you’re ever here on a court day, the lobby is extremely full with people waiting. We’ll have lines outside the building…people waiting to get in. We have more cases, so we have more people coming to court and we need more places to put them.”
A courtroom double the size of the existing one will be added and the magistrate office will expand into the vacated space. The patrol division of the police department which has operated out of the north precinct by Home Depot for more than five years will come back under one roof with the detective division.
“So, detectives and patrol officers will be able to work more closely together and hopefully, maybe some cases might get solved a little bit faster that way because there’ll be more communication,” DeAngelo explained. “They’ll be able to be in contact with each other.”
The expansion will all take place on the existing property, but work won’t likely get started until early 2024. The Daphne City Council has just approved spending $800,000 to get the engineering survey and architectural design done. The overall cost won’t be known until the job is bid but Daphne’s mayor, Robin LeJeune anticipates the cost to run several million dollars.
“We expect six to seven million dollars for this project…for this expansion,” LeJeune said. “We do have money in reserves. Our income is very well. There’s a possibility of a bond. We do have an animal shelter that’s going to be happening very soon, this year, so these two projects together. We do have reserve money that we can pay for a lot of this.”
LeJeune said the expansion has been needed for several years and said it will not only serve the public better but will go a long way in boosting morale by bringing patrol and detective divisions together again.
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