AUBURN — The city’s police station on Court Street was state of the art when it was built in 1976.

Since then, the world has changed and state of the art looks very different, Deputy Chief Jason Moen said.

“It was a great building for its time, but it needs a lot of work that’s going to be very expensive,” Moen said.

And, he said, the things that made it special then are long since gone.

Consider the station’s indoor shooting range, where officers once honed their marksmanship. That was closed in 1996 after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ruled the range’s ventilation system didn’t do enough to filter out lead particles from the bullets.

“The cost was just prohibitive, so we had to shut it down,” Moen said.

Officers now practice at the Androscoggin Fish and Game’s range on Hardscrabble Road, and the police station range was converted to a gymnasium with weights and workout equipment.

The photo-developing lab allowed officers to develop and print crime scene photographs. Digital photography made that unnecessary. The old darkroom is now the locker room for the department’s female officers.

Both the lieutenant in charge of detectives and the volunteer coordinator have offices that once served as closets.

Now the department is preparing to trade the old building for more modern space in Auburn Hall. Beginning in February, the department’s administrators, detectives and support services will relocate to the third floor of Auburn Hall. That is space once occupied by the Auburn School Department and the city’s Community Development Department.

Patrol officers and their support staff will move to Auburn Hall’s basement, taking over space currently occupied by the city’s computer department. The basement gymnasium will also move, as well as proper locker space for all the officers.

The city’s off-duty police cruisers will be parked in the Mechanics Row parking garage, taking over spaces on the first floor near the entrance.

“When people come in to pay a parking ticket or file a complaint, this is where they’ll come,” he said. Residents can walk into Auburn Hall and go right into the basement during regular business hours. They’ll find a lobby with support staff there. It will be closed overnight, and people needing to speak to the police will find a telephone connecting them to the 911 call center at the entrance.

“We’re going to move the entire bulletproof glass enclosure we have now to that lobby area,” Moen said.

Moen expects the patrol staff will move over later next spring.

“That’s still being worked out, but we’ll be in this space by July,” he said. “What’s going to happen: We’ll close down one Friday at the old location, move over the weekend and reopen on Monday in Auburn Hall.”

The alley that runs between the garage and Auburn Hall will become the on-duty parking for Auburn’s officers.

“They’ll be able to go right out, through the alley, to Main Street,” Moen said. “From there, they can go right or left, to Court Street or to Elm and back to Minot.”

The biggest benefit will be space — 2,000 to 3,000 additional square feet the Auburn Police do not have now.

“The space we’re in now, it’s been good for us,” Moen said. “But again, it’s 35 years old. If we stay there, the (heating and ventilation system) needs to be replaced, the roof needs to be replaced and so do the carpets. It’s just upkeep that needs to be done. Like a house, you need to put some work in it.”

And Moen said he thinks residents will come to like having the police downtown.

“I read somewhere that when cities go under revitalization and they move their police downtown, they have better luck,” Moen said. “The other nice thing, when you look at city services, this is now one-stop shopping. You can go the basement for police, the first floor for the tax office. City services are all going to be in one building.”

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