New Douglas County Law Enforcement Center Opens

Douglas County Law Enforcement Center

Rural counties face a different set of circumstances compared to their urban counterparts. Many rural counties have populations that are declining, while certain crime rates are increasing. A common issue that rural counties are dealing with is a lack of suitable candidates to hire due to required hiring standards. Counties split their resources between two functions: Staffing their old, overcrowded jails and keeping patrol units on the road. The low staff numbers are a tough balancing act for elected officials.

Douglas County was dealing with those issues, and its staff had many responsibilities to keep their facility functioning adequately. The operation of the facility was inefficient, the bed space was inadequate, and the conditions the staff worked in needed improvement.

HMN Architects’ collaborative design process with Douglas County officials resulted in a modern Law Enforcement Center. Working closely with the Sheriff, we determined specifics such as bed count, type of beds, and the different levels of confinement that were needed. We designed an economical facility that will function for years to come.

The newly-designed jail has 48-beds, more than double the amount of their existing facility. Because of advanced technology, the facility is safer for both staff and inmates. The new facility also offers a chance to generate revenue from housing inmates from surrounding counties while bed space is available, helping offset expenses. Within the new facility, there is a dispatch and control center, offices for staff, a reception area, inmate housing, and an indoor/outdoor exercise yard.

The control room is the focal point of this project; it is paramount to the facility’s function. The control room is large and elevated, giving the jailers the best views into every dayroom to monitor the inmates. The control room is adjacent to the booking desk to keep the critical staff near each other. We also designed an area specifically for dispatch to work in this stronghold, keeping them in the building’s safest area.

The kitchen and laundry functions for the facility are adjacent to booking and the secure vehicular sally port for controlled delivery and oversight. This design allows the Sheriff the flexibility to use inmate labor or staff in these areas.

The dayroom glazing is mirrored on the inmate’s side to lessen their ability to see who is in the corridor and operating the control room.

There is a separate staff entry that allows secured access into the building. The importance of separating the public, staff, and inmate circulation paths is vital for safety measures. Adjacent to this entrance is an evidence processing area and secured storage to keep the chain of custody intact.

The administrative area is set-up along the east elevation with large windows allowing natural light to enter the space. The neutral color scheme shows off the rich coffee-colored millwork, black countertops, and trim.

The exterior is a mix of burnished block, precast panels, and galvanized corrugated steel panels, highlighted with a custom-designed sign at the entry that reflects the facility’s function.

The new Douglas County Law Enforcement Center facility is a much needed transformation designed around the needs of the law enforcement staff. These improvements should serve the needs of the community for decades to come.


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Posted on July 31, 2020
Category: Featured Projects

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