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Blytheville PD forced to close portions of building

BLYTHEVILLE, Ark. -- Closed due to imminent danger.

We’re talking about a portion of the Blytheville Police Department.

On Friday part of the department had to be moved because conditions were so bad it was unsafe for employees to be exposed.

After spending all weekend moving services around, now the department is tasked with trying to find a more permanent solution.

A leaking roof, a ceiling with holes, exposed wires — rooms the men and women from the Blytheville Police Department worked in, up until two days ago.

The Arkansas Department of Labor Public Employee Division said it was so dangerous to employees they needed to be moved immediately. Dispatch, where patrol officers once gathered, and the old lobby are now closed.

On Monday Blytheville Police Chief Ross Thompson showed WREG the changes they quickly worked through the weekend to make.

"There’s a window when you come in 24 hours a day, our dispatch was in this section right here. We’ve since locked this," explained Thompson.

The public now enters from a different door, just a few feet away, while patrol now uses an area that was a clerk’s office.

"This is still a work in progress, but as you can see the tables will be set, this is where the role call for the patrol officers will be. We’ve moved their body-worn cameras. We’ve moved a computer in, we had to drop data lines," said Thompson.

A critical move, dispatch, the communications call center, now on the second floor. During the move the first and second floor were staffed at the same time.

“There was never a miss of any kind of phone call," explained Thompson.

The new quarters are tight. The department is also tasked by the Department of Labor Public Employee Division with making more improvements to other parts of the building over the next six months.

Despite the shake-up at their current building, Thompson and Mayor James Sanders said they’ve been working hard to move the department into an old armory off Highway 61. They say it will be home to more than just police officers.

“Our judge and our clerks and all that dealing with the Justice Center," explained Sanders.

After making band-aid repair after band-aid repair to the current building first built in the 1920s, the city started looking into a new facility and acquired the armory. Now they’re looking for the money to make the move official.

A special election is set for May 9 where taxpayers will vote on a 10-year, half-cent sales tax increase to help pay for raises for police and firefighters as well as create some $2.7 million for funding for renovations to the armory.

The city previously tried a similar increase in the past but it failed.

Leaders are hopeful this time.