That is the chore Hope Mills police chief Joel Acciardo and his staff will be tackling in the weeks ahead as they vacate their home of some 30 years on Rockfish Road and relocate to temporary headquarters on South Main Street.
This is part of the process to build the new public safety building on the current Rockfish Road property, which will eventually house both the police and fire departments when it’s done.
The new building was going to be placed in front of the existing police and fire departments during the early planning stages, but when Rockfish Road was expanded, that idea was ruled out as it had to be moved further back from the widened road.
The fire department will lose some of its parking area but will still be able to function at its current location. The police department is headed for the former Ace Hardware building, where it expects to be located for as long as 24 months while the new building is under construction.
Acciardo said the challenge for him and his staff is to complete the move in an orderly manner while still providing services to the town of Hope Mills without any gaps.
Work on the interior of the temporary police headquarters is progressing, and the goal is for the entire department to be fully relocated by the end of March.
“It’s going to be a phased move,’’ Acciardo said. “The first thing we are going to be shutting down is the front of the police department, where reception and records and all that stuff is.
“That way, we can officially close this building and still have a location where the public can come, get reports and meet with officers.’’
After that move is done, the most complicated part of the move will take place, transporting evidence to the new location. “You have to maintain complete control and a chain of custody,’’ Acciardo said.
Because of security concerns, there will be no publicity as to when the actual evidence is being moved. Armed officers will accompany the evidence when it is moved. “It’s a little bit more complicated than having a moving company come in and load up some desks and filing cabinets,’’ Acciardo said. “It has to stay with the officers.’’
Once the evidence is moved, the next stage will be to move the investigative division, followed by the administrative offices.
Acciardo stressed the public will see no disruption in field services since those officers were hired to work outside the building in police cars.
A moving company has been contracted to help with large items like desks and file cabinets, but all of the smaller things will be taken care of by Acciardo and his staff.
The plan is to shut down the police headquarters as usual one Friday afternoon and conduct the initial move of the front office area over the course of the weekend, opening the portion of the temporary building where staff interacts with the public the following Monday.
It’s during the process when the department is between buildings that problems are most likely to arise. Acciardo said it won’t be much different from moving to a new house and realizing when you arrive that something you need is still in a box at your former residence. “As with any move, there will be tweaking during the process to make it work right,’’ he said. Acciardo said measures are in place to address glitches.
Just prior to the start of the move, Acciardo said a ceremony will be held to officially close the current police headquarters. “This facility served the public in Hope Mills for 30 years,’’ he said. “I think everyone got their money’s worth out of it.’’
The current building is actually sitting in what will become the construction zone for the new building, so it will have to be demolished.
“It’s a complicated move but it’s one we will get done,’’ Acciardo said. “The goal is not to disrupt any service the citizens are currently enjoying. That’s what we are all striving for.’’