Construction on the justice center — named after Officer Justin Sollohub, who was killed in the line of duty in 2011 — began last April and continues even as officers move into their freshly painted offices.
The new Anniston City Jail is still a work in progress and police Chief Shane Denham said inmates won’t be moved into the space until the end of the month.
Denham said the phone lines will be switched to the new building Monday morning and the Anniston police force will soon abandon the structure it's worked out of since the 1950s.
“It’s a big project. We’ve been working on it for a couple years,” Denham said. “I never thought I’d see it in my career.”
Denham said for the next six weeks it will be “chaos trying to get everything situated.”
The chief said the move was planned in stages. Friday was moving day for the Investigative Division. The Uniform Division will move from its own building, on 11th Street and Moore Avenue, in a few weeks, Denham said.
If an emergency had happened Friday, Denham said, it would have been taken care of by Capt. Allen George of the Uniform Division.
Denham said the move has gone smoothly, but he anticipated some minor issues.
“I’m sure we’re going to run into some stuff that we haven’t thought about,” Denham said.
For instance, Denham said, after the windows were put in he drove by his office and discovered he could see everything inside. Since then, blinds have been installed to keep out prying eyes.
Sgt. Chris Sparks said police will still be using both buildings Monday.
“We’re trying to keep daily functions in line while trying to move,” Sparks said.
The crime lab, Sparks said, hasn’t been moved yet because it all needs to be done all at once.
“If you start moving half of it you may need it,” Sparks said. “If we have a major scene that stuff has got to be available to be used immediately.”
Sparks said all the files from the Investigative Division, including cases from 1950, were stored in the new records room by Friday afternoon.
Investigator Kyle Price said he believes the new police station could be an incentive for officers to stay in Anniston.
“I think it’s going to help us retain people and maybe draw some people in,” Price said.
Price said he’s looking forward to an in-house gym and a larger cubicle with more storage space.
Officers agreed it seemed fitting for Sollohub’s name to be inscribed on their new workspace, even though Price said it’s a constant reminder of a terrible day.
“I wish his name didn’t have to be up there, but I’m glad they let it be,” Price said.
Staff Writer Rachael Griffin: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @RGriffin_Star.