An online tour of the old Niagara Falls police station
Jim McCaffery now has a really good understanding of how far the Niagara Regional Police Service has come during the past 40 years.
On Wednesday, the 32-year NRP veteran and current inspector toured the former station on Morrison Street for the first time since it closed and everything was moved out.
“I did do a quick calculation some time ago, I think it ended up to about 14,000 days of policing in this building,” he said.
“This building, at its time, was very effective for serving the public and for officers. But unfortunately over time we’ve kind of outgrown the building, and we’re now in our new building, which much better suits the needs of the public, as well as officer safety … or when we’re dealing with the public.”
The former detachment at 4343 Morrison St. is listed for sale for $1.1 million.
The 16,415-square-foot, 1 1/2-storey office is on 1.02 acres of land and was constructed in 1975.
It had housed the NRP in Niagara Falls since 1976.
It was declared surplus by the owners of the building, Niagara Region, as operations moved into the new NRP headquarters on Valley Way Sept. 20.
McCaffery took the Niagara Falls Review on a tour of the Morrison Street facility, and said it would be interesting for more officers to do one final walk through to gain an even greater appreciation for what they have left behind, and what they can look forward to.
The new $65-million state-of-the-art headquarters is 210,000-square-feet, with three-storeys on eight acres of land off Valley Way, visible from Highway 420.
McCaffery estimates the front lobby at the Morrison Street building is about 10 times smaller than the new reception area at the Valley Way location. It also has windows that separated officers from the public, which the new lobby does not.
“It’s now more customer-friendly. It’s wide open in the new building,” he said.
“You can hear the echo in here. I’m thinking back to some of the busier Fridays or Saturdays when the public was in here and the incidents were going on, by no means was there any kind of echo. It was always full, very busy.”
Another major difference between the two facilities is the cell area.
The Valley Way complex has an extremely efficient lock-up system, including protective glass where prisoners in the temporary 24-hour holding cells can only see out of one side.
For safety reasons, cell benches are heated so officers don’t have to provide inmates with blankets. The flow of water in the cell is controlled from the outside by officers who, for example, can flush the toilet. The new cells also don’t have bars.
The old cells at the Morrison Street building have bars.
There was also a “bullpen” cell at the former detachment, which at one time was used to hold a number of prisoners at one time.
“We have much different standards now where you can’t keep a number of people together. It’s now one person per cell,” said McCaffery.
He said there’s also been “an incredible change” in the locker-room area.
“Looking at what they had … probably in its day it served its purpose, but now with the modern officer, they require a lot more equipment to get their job done.
“The locker now is probably twice the size to take care of the equipment,” said McCaffery.
“It’s much more efficient for the officers on a day-to-day basis to keep their equipment now in proper shape that they need. Technology is night and day in the new building, compared to here.
“When you come in here and look at it after spending some time in the new building, you can really tell that it served its purpose in its day, but its day is long gone.”
He said it was “something” to pull up to the Morrison Street property and not see the Niagara Regional Police Service crest on the building.
“That was always something you saw pulling up. Another thing that was kind of interesting was to see the property area.
It’s completely empty now. At one point, it was (filled) to the roof with exhibits, property, court exhibits, found items. One area was packed full of found bikes and now it’s completely empty.
“Or, I look back in the detective area now and it’s barren. At one time it was very busy. There could be as many as 20 to 25 detectives working in there, and now it’s just empty.”
The property is listed for sale by Revel Realty Inc. Brokerage. It’s located right next to city hall, with frontages on three roadways.
There is on-site parking for about 35 vehicles, and multiple paid lots surround the site.
A partial basement without a walkout provides an additional 4,392-square-feet of space featuring a two-car garage with an external ramp and two overhead doors.
The property is zoned business commercial.