Nebraska’s third largest city has unveiled plans for a new police department and city hall. Bellevue's new police headquarters will offer something completely different.
Anyone stopping at the Bellevue Police Department at night will find a small lobby with just one entrance and exit and no one manning the front desk. You have to use the red phone for help, which calls dispatch.
That bothers the city, especially if all officers are on calls and no one's around. “My concern is someone could be in trouble and I wanted that option for them," says Interim Bellevue Police Chief Mark Elbert.
The city has made a point of changing that when an office building is converted into the new police headquarters, set to open this spring. “It will be right here in the immediate area," says Elbert. It's called a "safe room" and will be about the size of a small office. Once an individual is in the safe room, someone chasing them cannot get in. The door locks behind them.
“So if you're being chased by a bad guy like in a domestic violence situation or someone is an angry driver, you can get out of your vehicle, run into the building, slam the door behind you and call for help,” says Bellevue City Councilwoman Carol Blood.
The Bellevue Community Police Foundation is raising $50,000 to pay for the safe room. “They'd be locked in there so we'd be the only ones who could get in there and open it up for them,” says Chief Elbert.
By comparison, Omaha's front desk is manned at all hours. Lincoln's department is regular business hours with a phone linked to 911 after hours.