New police facility won’t have helicopter pad or firing range

St. Louis County will sponsor a public meeting this fall on its plans to provide a new headquarters facility for the county Police Department’s 4th Precinct.

But officials want to immediately debunk rumors that the new facility will feature a helicopter landing pad and a firing range.

“At least one area resident has been energetically circulating rumors that the new headquarters is going to include a landing pad for helicopters and a shooting range, but these assertions are entirely without merit. They are simply not true,” David Wrone, public information manager for St. Louis County’s Department of Highways and Traffic and Public Works, stated in a news release. “The county Police Department’s new Precinct 4 facility will not have a heli-pad or a firing range. What we’re proposing is an office building for the 80 law enforcement officers who serve this part of south county.”

The new facility will be built on property owned by the county at 315 Sappington Barracks Road, just west of Telegraph Road. For years, a youth organization used an existing, 4,000-square foot building there, but recently informed county officials the group no longer needed the structure.

County engineers and architects currently are determining whether to expand on the existing building or raze it and build a new structure in which to house the entire 4th Precinct. Currently, the 4th Precinct dispatches officers from three different buildings — a fragmentation of facilities that not only costs the county $120,000 a year in rent, but also poses constant logistical and supervisory challenges to the police themselves.

“We’ve just started the process of hiring a consultant to help us design the new precinct, and we’ll hold a public meeting to explain the project to area residents and to get their feedback,” Wrone stated. “But this most likely won’t happen until this fall, when we’ve got something definitive to share.”

Police officials have previously noted that the existing 4th Precinct facilities — besides being physically separated from one another — are too small for their officers’ needs. The two smaller buildings — one of them directly across the street from Mehlville Senior High School and the other in the 5000 block of Telegraph — generally are unstaffed, except for those times when officers report for duty, officials have said, because they lack the space for administrative support staff.

The third — and largest — of the 4th Precinct’s buildings is roughly one-eighth of a mile from the site of the new facility.