May 5, 2009 |

New Zone 3 opens with public getting a glimpse inside

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl officially opens the Zone 3 police station in Allentown.

The New Zone 3 Police Station in Allentown opened officially on Friday, May 1, with speeches, tours and the unveiling of the public art displayed on the exterior of the building.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl acting as Master of Ceremonies acknowledged the reasons for moving the station from South Side one mile up the hill while thanking those involved in getting the station up and running in minimal time.

In addition to the mayor, Police Chief Nate Harper, Councilman Bruce Kraus and Allentown Community Development Corp president Judy Hackel addressed the crowd of neighborhood residents and public officials standing shoulder to shoulder in the Roll Call room of the station.

Councilman Kraus thanked the mayor for his commitment to provide the necessary equipment to keep the officers of the Pittsburgh Police Department safe while they protect the city.

Following the opening ceremonies, those attending were welcome to tour the station and enjoy food and refreshments provided by Zone 3 area restaurants and businesses.

The new station at 830 E. Warrington Avenue served as bank for more than 50 years, beginning as early as 1929 as Hilltop Savings. The last bank at the site was Equibank, which left in the 1980s.

In the mid 90's, the building underwent a $1.5 million renovation to become Pittsburgh's only International Youth Hostel. After experiencing a downturn in international travel following 9/11 the hostel was closed on October 31, 2003.

Last year Mayor Ravenstahl vowed to "Take back the Hilltop," and started the process to convert the former hostel building into a state-of-the-art police station.

On the ground level, the public entrance to the station will be through a vestibule of bullet-proof glass where visitors will have to be show identification to gain access to the building. In the event of an emergency, the desk officer has the ability to lock the inner and outer doors, sealing in a suspect.

Once inside, the Roll Call desk can be staffed with up to three officers. Flat screen monitors above the desk can be used to provide information during roll call, for training purposes or even to turn on local television stations to watch "breaking news."

Across from the desk is a bench area where suspects can

be secured to a "D-ring" bolted to the floor. It's one of several places in the station where suspects may be secured, although there are no holding cells.

Also on the first floor are the Supervisors' Office where the first line supervisors, one lieutenant and two sergeants on each shift will work, and the officers' work stations where they can work on computers in private. Through the officers' work area is an "unofficial" break room on the second floor for the officers, complete with a small stove, sink and refrigerator. The room served as the kitchen for the hostel manager.

The second floor of the facility houses one of three state-of-the-art fitness rooms for use by not only Zone 3 officers, but all City police officers. The other two are on the Northside and in Highland Park. Because the fitness room is on the second floor, Nautilus equipment is used instead of free weights. The floor has been reinforced and covered with a special surface to soften the surface and help deaden the sound. The fitness facility is available 24-hours for officers on all shifts.

Crime Prevention Officer Christine Luffey will also have an office on the second floor. The office space will eventually be shared with City building inspectors two days a week.

In a departure from the old Zone 3 station, the new station has locker facilities for 25 women officers. The locker rooms come complete with shower facilities, another holdover from the hostel days.

Each of the four floors in the building also feature a handicapped accessible restroom in the "public" areas.

As many as six plain-clothes detectives will work out of an office on the third floor. The floor also houses an Interview Room where suspects can be secured during interrogation. The room is a secure environment with permanent screening covering the windows, a bolted down interview table and the walls and ceilings are connected with no false ceilings for suspects to try to crawl through.

The third floor also features a modern men's locker room, again complete with shower facilities.

There is also access from the floor to a rooftop generator that is able to power the station with a touch of a button in the event of a power outage.

The "lobby" area of the fourth floor will be used as part of the officers' break area. The area comes complete with a table and chairs and vending machines.

Immediately to the right when exiting the elevator is the Community Room. Zone 3 is the only station in Pittsburgh to have one like it. Inside is a conference table with 14 chairs and has the ability to seat another 14 people throughout the room. On the wall is a 52 inch flat screen television hooked up to a DVD player. The monitor will also be able to be used as a computer monitor for giving presentations.

Commander McNeilly's office is located in the corner officer on the fourth floor with views down Arlington and Warrington avenues.

Off to the side are also the station's administrative clerk's offices and a secure file room.

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