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Construction is underway on long-delayed south St. Louis County police precinct

A bulldozer sits on the plot where the St. Louis County Police third precinct will be built
Brian Munoz
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St. Louis Public Radio
A bulldozer sits on the land Wednesday where the St. Louis County Police Department's 3rd Precinct will be built in unincorporated south county.

More than three years after the building was designed, construction is underway on a new precinct for south St. Louis County police officers.

County Executive Sam Page joined Chief Kenneth Gregory and other police and elected officials Wednesday to officially break ground on the 3rd Precinct.

“The largest percentage of our general revenue fund goes to the police department to make sure that it is fully staffed and it has the training, equipment and facilities so the officers can do their jobs safely and effectively,” Page said.

The 68 officers assigned to the precinct, also known as Affton Southwest, currently work out of a rented space retrofitted to be a police station. Capt. Guy Means, the commander of the precinct, said that officers are required to share desks, and that there is no space to safely process people they arrest.

The new building, near Gravois and Lindbergh, will be more than 15,000 square feet and will include a secure place for detainees. It will also provide more space to interact with the community, Means said.

“I look forward to many meetings with the community at our new facility,” he said. “It’s been a long time coming.”

10192022_BM_PRECINCT-7 copy.jpg
Brian Munoz and Provided
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St. Louis Public Radio
The St. Louis County Police’s current 3rd Precinct, a rented space near commercial lots, left, will be vacated for a new construction, right, in unincorporated south St. Louis County.

Construction of the 3rd Precinct, along with a new building for the 1st Precinct in north county, has been delayed, both by the pandemic and politics. The design for Affton Southwest was completed before former County Executive Steve Stenger resigned in disgrace over corruption charges. But in October 2020, Page’s budget director, Paul Kreidler, informed the county council that North County would be moving forward first, despite Affton Southwest being further along in the process.

At the time, Kriedler told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the Affton precinct was delayed because cost estimates had doubled. The two new buildings will cost a total of $27.6 million, with funding coming from Proposition P, a half-cent sales tax voters passed in 2017.

Councilman Ernie Trakas, R-St. Louis County, eventually worked out a deal to advance both projects at the same time. Both the current and new locations of the Affton Southwest precinct are located in his 6th District.

Trakas was not present at Wednesday’s groundbreaking. A representative from his office, Earl Simms, told the officers gathered that the new building was “but a small way to thank you for your dedication and sacrifice.”

Barring construction delays, the Affton Southwest precinct will open in early 2024. The county will break ground Nov. 2 on a new building for the North County precinct, where 98 officers also currently work out of rented space. That construction is scheduled to be completed by the end of next year.

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Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

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