The first of three major projects for the St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Department is less than a month away from completion.

Sheriff Mark Lillywhite said renovations to the south half of a building previously occupied by the county’s parks and recreation department should be done before the end of July.

The open plan area has been converted and consists of two smaller rooms and a larger space available for much needed meeting space. Lillywhite said the sheriff’s department meeting room was woefully small, leaving few on-site options as an adequate alternative.

He said the newly remodeled space will be used in many ways.

“Well, having a place of adequate size so that we can have meetings with large groups is important, obviously, as our monthly victim services group meets every month and we had to meet at the FOP pavilion (at east of Centerville) because of the available space there compared to what we have at the sheriff’s department,” he said. “We got tables from Glen Oaks that they were going to throw away, and I took about 30, so we got tables here for everyone and that was really helpful, very kind of Glen Oaks.”

In addition to monthly Victim Services meetings, Lillywhite said he will now have ample space for various sheriff’s units, including his reserve members, the Mounted Division Team and other department-related groups.

One of the two smaller rooms will allow the department to set up its MILO unit, a “shoot/don’t shoot” video scenario that provides deputies, soldiers and officers with invaluable and realistic training.

The MILO unit costs around $60,000, and Lillywhite said it was not intended for portable processing. In other words, it currently needs to be broken down and stored when not in use. Now, with the station permanently installed at the Centerville site, sheriff’s deputies, state police troopers and local police department offices can conduct drills at any time and the MILO unit can remain in place in a safe place all the time.

In addition to the “shoot/don’t shoot” exercise, MILO also offers a de-escalation scenario.

“There are parts dealing with a character with mental illness, de-escalation on people in trouble, you can deter them from an agitated state,” he said. “It’s quite realistic, the trigger pulls exactly like our (pistols); many people who follow the exercises comment on the intensity even if it is not a real situation.

Lillywhite said the other, smaller room will be used for storage, a luxury the sheriff’s department currently doesn’t have, but with only a few options it uses strategic means to find a place for odds and ends. pitcher.

“We needed that, we needed a place just to store everything in one place centrally,” he said. “All of our training stuff is going to come out of little cupboards and spaces, it’s going to come in here, it’s going to be spread out, it’s going to be detailed. It’s going to be nice.

Parks and Recreation moved administrative operations to the King Mill in Rawson, freeing up space for the sheriff’s department.

Covered Bridge Healthcare occupies the northern portion of the building as a satellite location for offices and a meeting room. He agreed to cover the building’s utilities.

“For the county, it’s a great partnership to have Covered Bridge in this building,” Lillywhite said. “For law enforcement, we train together a bit, so it’s centrally located, there’s plenty of space, and we’re a 90-second walk from the sheriff’s department.”

The renovation is done at a cost of approximately $80,000.

An independent project will soon be underway in front of the entrance to the sheriff’s department. Lillywhite, who has worked for the sheriff’s department for 27 years, said the job was to reinstall the guard rails so they’re stronger and better anchored.

In addition, new exterior steps near the entrance will be installed and the tiles in the department vestibule will be replaced.

Inside, the public restrooms in the lobby will be renovated and updated, Lillywhite noted.

Later this year, a $4.5 million project to replace the ministry’s HVAC system will begin.

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