The precinct house is a two-story (plus basement), steel-frame building in a Romanesque Revival style. The lower floor has a red sandstone façade, with two large, arched windows on the west and south sides. Identical windows used to exist on the east side, but they were bricked over in 1977. Instead of red sandstone, the second floor of the precinct has a façade of red brick with grey brick accents. The windows are conventional rectangular windows without bars, and unlike the windows on the first floor, these actually open. Above the glass windows are tall, brick arches typical of the Romanesque style. On the second floor above the Madison Avenue entrance is a large circular window. The precinct house contains a small attic that houses the central air-conditioning system added in 1989, much to the relief of the officers. Large, arched doorways separate the windows on the west and south sides. These doorways are the public entrances to the station, one on Madison Avenue and one on 13th Street. Over each of these doorways is a stone archway upon which is engraved the department’s motto, To Protect and To Serve. A third entrance was added on the east wall in 1977, when the city tore down the buildings to the east of the precinct to add a gated and fenced parking lot for the officers. The windows on that side were bricked over when the offices on the first floor were renovated into holding cells on the south and locker rooms on the north wall. Unlike the two public entrances, the parking lot entrance is magnetically locked and requires a numeric code to open, though the desk sergeant can open the door remotely when someone buzzes in at the door. There is no door on the north side of the building. Instead, there are three arched windows that face on to a narrow alley the station shares with Bailey’s Irish Tavern, a favourite watering hole of off-duty officers. All the windows on the first floor have frosted glass and iron bars. The building is elevated about five feet above street level with stone steps leading up to each of the entrances. Only the 13th Street entrance has handicap access. On the corner of Madison and 13th stands a tall, green sign identifying the precinct house as a National Historical Landmark. To the east of the building, there is a parking lot capable of holding 15 squad cars and about 30 additional vehicles. Also, the spaces in front of the precinct house on the Madison and 13th Street sides are reserved for squad cars. The parking lot is surrounded by a wrought-iron fence and an electric gate that opens when officers enter a code. The desk sergeant can also open the gate remotely. The 13th Street gate is used only for entering the parking lot. Officers who leave the lot must go out through a second gate on Monroe Avenue. This gate opens automatically when squad cars pull up to it, and also can be opened remotely by the desk sergeant when officers are pulling out on patrol at the start of their shifts. Naturally, the parking lot is under video surveillance. There are six cameras in the parking lot, with another four covering two public entrances to the building. All camera views are cycled through the CCTV screens at the desk sergeant’s station. In the parking lot, about 10 feet away from the door, stands a small, open shed that holds the eight TREK 8000 Police Model mountain bikes used by the precinct’s bicycle squad. Each bike is equipped with a luggage rack capable of carrying a nylon trunk bag holding standard duty-belt equipment. The bikes are also equipped with rechargeable headlights and specially designed odometers and speedometers. Extra bicycle helmets usually hang from hooks on the shed wall, and in the back is a large workbench with tools and other equipment for repairing the bikes. Just to the right of the parking lot doorway is a padlocked steel trap door that opens on to a set of stairs leading to the basement. This is the exterior entrance to the basement boiler room that the city struggles to maintain. The entire system should have been replaced years ago, but doing so would have required much more money than the city was prepared to spend and much more damage to the building’s architectural structure than the local historical societies could tolerate. Faced with a cash shortage and the threat of an injunction, the city has spent the last 10 years attempting to maintain a 60-year-old boiler system that works intermittently at best. Officers assigned to the 13th Precinct are advised to bring sweaters in the winter.
The First FloorEdit
The 13th Street entrance is the primary civilian entrance. The Madison Avenue entrance allows citizens to access the Evidence Room to recover personal possessions confiscated during arrest. Officers enter through the parking lot entrance on the east side of the building, and arrestees are typically brought in through that door as well, since it opens directly into the booking area and the holding cells.
The primary public entrance is on 13th Street, and the tall, reinforced, wooden doors open in to a small reception room. At the far end of the room is a large bulletproof window with an intercom button. The on-duty desk sergeant sits on the other side, usually accompanied by a civilian receptionist. The reception area contains 10 rather uncomfortable wooden chairs. The walls, just as those of every other room in the building, are a shade of grey best described as bureaucratic. The hardwood floors and the high ceiling cause a visitor’s footsteps to echo menacingly as she approaches the desk. The walls are adorned with several posters seeking new recruits for the police academy, as well as one containing information about the Crimestoppers 1-800 number and an-other containing information on starting up local neighbourhood watch programs. Above the desk sergeant’s window are three large, framed pictures of the mayor, the chief of police and the precinct captain. Visitors occasionally remark that none of the three looks particularly trustworthy. On the left wall is a three- by five-foot hand-crafted, wooden display case (made and donated by a former officer who took up carpentry in retirement) that contains police badges collected from all 50 states. On the opposite wall is a framed American flag recently sent back from Iraq by an officer from the 13th called up to active duty and stationed in Baghdad. Also on the right wall is a simple wooden plaque with brass nameplates identifying every officer from the 13th Precinct to have died in the line of duty going back to 1927 — 53 so far. Every 10 years or so, the nameplates are relocated to a progressively larger wooden plaque. As a visitor comes through the 13th Street entrance, he will see a door marked “restroom” to his right. This door leads to a small corridor with adjacent men’s and women’s restrooms. To the right of the desk sergeant’s window is a magnetically locked steel door that leads to the rest of the station.
Madison Avenue Entrance and Evidence LockupEdit
The other public entrance, from Madison Avenue, leads to a much smaller reception area. This area has only three chairs and no decorations at all. There is a glass window and a steel door connecting to the evidence lockup instead of the desk sergeant. Persons who have been arrested and then released come here to collect their personal belongings. The Evidence Room itself is a fairly large room whose walls are lined with shelves. There are three large sets of stor-age shelves in the center of the room that run almost the length of the room. The east wall is mostly hidden by filing cabinets. At the North-East corner of the Evidence Room is another bulletproof window and magnetic-lock door. This window is used by police who come to check out evidence. There is a networked computer at each of the windows for use by the officer assigned to Evidence. While the Evidence Room is fully computerized, the MPD still uses a card checkout system as a redundancy factor, mainly because officers who check out contraband evidence (such as drugs or recovered cash) don’t trust computers to register when they have returned the evidence. The Evidence Room is probably the dirtiest room in the precinct, as the janitorial staff is not permitted to come in except under strict supervision. For the same reason, burnt-out fluorescent bulbs go months without replacement. The shelves are packed with evidence from floor to ceiling, blocking out the beige walls and making the room seem even darker, and the whole design of the room gives it a depressing, cave-like atmosphere.
The Break RoomEdit
Both the interior door to the Evidence Room and the door connecting the desk sergeant to the reception area open up into a U-shaped corridor. Between those two doors lies the entrance to a break room for the patrol officers. There are two battered love-seats donated by former officers, soda and candy vending machines, a small refrigerator, a small cabinet with a Formica counter-top, an irregularly washed coffee machine and a small TV in the corner. By tradition, the desk sergeant for each shift is responsible for bringing in several boxes of doughnuts. There is a small jar on the countertop, and officers are on the honour system to put in 25 cents for every doughnut taken. On the wall, there is a small bulletin board to which various cartoons and jokes of varying degrees of political correctness have been stapled. Next to the bulletin board hangs an 11” x 17” framed needlepoint work given to the precinct in 1979 by the mother of a slain officer titled “A Police Officer’s Prayer.” (see below for the text)
Police officers PrayerEdit
Lord I ask for courageCourage to face and conquer my own fears,Courage to take me where others will not goLord I ask for strengthStrength of body to protect othersStrength of spirit to lead othersLord I ask for dedicationDedication to do my job, to do it wellDedication to my community to keep it safeLord I ask for compassionCompassion for those who trust meCompassion for those who need meAnd please LordThrough it all, be by my side
The Desk Sergeant’s StationEdit
The door in the north wall of the 13th Street reception room opens into the desk sergeant’s station. This station consists of a desk with two chairs, one for the sergeant and one for a civilian receptionist who directs non-911 phone calls. There are three CCTV screens mounted on the desk
that cycle through the various security cameras in and around the station. Behind the desk sergeant’s station stands a large locked closet, containing extra police equipment such as pepper spray, rifles, extra ammunition and other related equipment.
Locker Rooms and the Main Conference RoomEdit
As a visitor continues around the U-shaped hall away from the desk sergeant’s station, he will pass the break room, the interior entrance to the evidence lockup, the building’s only elevator and the west staircase. In the North-Western corner of the building is a large area that has been converted
into a locker room for the female officers. Within the locker room are two rows of gym-style lockers and benches. The locker room also contains a limited amount of exercise equipment, mainly a used Soloflex machine and two tread-mills. The locker room also contains a shower room with
eight shower stalls and a rest-room. The men’s locker room is in the North-Eastern corner of the building and is function-ally identical to the women’s locker room. However, the men’s exercise area consists of free weights instead of the Soloflex. There is occasional tension between the male and female officers over the fact that the two locker rooms are the same size even though the male officers substantially outnumber the female officers. The locker rooms are separated by a large room with six folding tables and 30 chairs arranged in front of a podium and a blackboard. Roll call takes place in this room. At the beginning of each shift, the shift sergeant will check the roll and advise the officers of any particularly relevant issues (reports of a serial rapist operating in one neighbourhood, several convenience store robberies in the same general area, an announcement that the wife of one of the officers gave birth the previous night, etc.). This room also functions as a main conference room, as it is the only room in the building large enough to hold an entire shift. The room contains a single 42” television with a VCR/DVD player on a rolling cart.
Against the south wall of the conference room stands a large wooden mailbox rack. Every officer assigned to the precinct has his own mailbox, and information pertaining to shift assignments and employment-related issues is typically put here.
Booking, First Floor: Interrogation and the TombsEdit
As officers enter through the east parking lot entrance, they first pass a side corridor on the left. This corridor leads to three interrogation rooms and four prisoner holding cells (affectionately known as the Tombs). The holding cells are each eight feet square. The south wall of each cell is brick, and the remaining walls are steel bars. The floors are concrete. Each cell has an individual door, a toilet, a sink and a metal bed bolted to the floor with a thin mattress, pillow and sheets. The doors are all individually locked and open out. On each shift, a single officer (or sometimes a civilian trainee) remains in a cramped office that leads to the Tombs to watch over any inmates via CCTV. It is at best a bleakly dull job, and occasionally a highly stressful one when one or more of the inmates is drunk, high or mentally unbalanced. The interrogation rooms are each eight feet by 12. Each room has a single wooden table, several wooden chairs and a single light. Each room is accessible by a wooden door. Next to the door is a two-way mirror, and each room contains an intercom system that allows police to listen in on interrogations. Lawyers often meet with their clients in these rooms as well. The east walls of the interrogation rooms are brick, and one can clearly see where the original windows were bricked up. The interrogation rooms are intentionally designed to be small and claustrophobic in order to put suspects ill at ease. If an officer continues down the main corridor past the side corridor leading to the Tombs, he will pass the east stairs, as well as a small janitorial closet. Just past the stairs is the booking room. Here, suspects who have been placed under arrest are photographed and fingerprinted. The room contains a sink and a table, which is used as a station where the suspects fingerprints are applied. The suspect is then permitted to wash his hands in the sink after his prints have been taken. The south wall is painted white with black lines at one-foot intervals. The booking officer will place the suspect against this wall and take his picture while he holds a slate containing biometric information and other data. Today, booking officers use digital cameras and store all photographs online. In earlier days, booking officers actually had to develop film in this room, and today, long after the dark room was torn down, the booking room still has an astringent chemical smell.
The Second FloorEdit
The second floor of the station is home to the detectives and to the supervisory officers. As a visitor comes up the west staircase, she first notices an open area with offices on each side. On the west wall, there is a large circular glass window looking down on Madison Avenue. To the east, a visitor will observe men’s and women’s rest-rooms and, beyond them, the east staircase. Against the east wall is a large conference and multi-purpose room used primarily for coordinating manhunts and task force activities.
Field Investigations and Task Force OfficesEdit
At the South-West corner of the second floor lies the Bullpen, a large office used by those detectives who serve in the 13th Precinct but are not assigned to any task forces. There are nine full-time field investigators, generally three per shift, though sometimes an investigator may choose to work odd hours in order to pursue leads in a particular case. In this room is a total of 10 desks, each with a computer and phone. On the north wall is a large chalkboard that identifies ongoing investigations and which officer is as-signed to each one.On the west wall stands a large metal filing cabinet containing extra equipment such as rubber gloves, evidence kits, legal pads and the like. A large metal cabinet on the south wall remains unlocked. Many detectives keep spare clothes in this cabinet in case their regular clothes get dirty at a crime scene. Each desk has at least one drawer with a strong lock in which evidence is kept while the detective has it checked out of the evidence lockup. Individual detectives usually keep limited numbers of personal items on their desks, such as family photos, mementos or even small plants. Pauline Reed’s desk is in the southwest corner, which traditionally belongs to the senior detective as it has a view of both the west and the south. Moving east from the Field Investigations office, a visitor will find four 12-foot-square rooms along the south wall. Each of these rooms is assigned to one of the department-wide task forces. The office next to Field Investigations is reserved for Homicide Investigations and is the domain of Sid Routman and his protégé of the moment. The next room is used by the five officers assigned to the Narcotics Task Force, most of whom work the night shift. Gena Buehler invariably works nights when she comes into the precinct house at all (as an undercover officer, she is rarely required to come into the office). The next office is used by the Vice squad, which includes four officers. Vice detectives generally work either Second or Third shifts. Finally, the South-East corner is reserved for detectives inthe city’s Organized Crime Task Force though currently there are none assigned to the 13th Precinct. Sid Routman schemes half-heartedly to swap offices with the OCT so that he can have a corner office for himself, but he has taken no concrete steps to move.
Senior Staff OfficesEdit
To the quiet annoyance of most of the station, the North-West corner of the second floor is reserved for the deputy chief of Field Operations, who maintains an office in every precinct in the city. This office is also used by the police chief or other high-ranking city personnel when their presence is required at the precinct. In practice, however, the office is rarely used, and this waste of space is galling to many of the personnel who must share tiny offices. The deputy chief’s office has other amenities: the best television set in the precinct, a better computer than most of the detectives or any of the patrol officers, and even a liquor cabinet (which is kept locked at all times when the deputy chief is not in residence). To get to the deputy chief’s office, a visitor must first pass through a secretary’s office that separates the deputy chief’s office from that of the precinct captain. The secretary works primarily for the captain, but also fields calls and does typing for the deputy chief when he is there. The secretary’s office contains a computer, fax machine and several filing cabinets, as well as the secretary’s personal effects. The filing cabinets primarily contain personnel records, budget records and personal correspondence from the captain. The secretary at the moment is Mavis Gregoire, a short, heavyset, African American woman in her late 50s who still types a good 70 words a minute and who is virtually indispensable to the captain. As a visitor enters Mavis’ office, the deputy chief’s office is on the left and the captain’s is on the right. The layout of the captain’s office is identical to that of the deputy chief, though the captain’s is much more lived-in. The captain is extremely neat and efficient in his office management. On the south wall of the captain’s office is a bookshelf reaching up three feet off the ground. The captain’s reading habits are eclectic, ranging from Cormac McCarthy to Dave Barry. Sitting atop the bookshelf are a number of personal pictures, including wedding pictures, graduation pictures of the captain’s children and a picture of the mayor congratulating the captain upon his assignment. Above them is a large piece of expressionist art, an abstract depiction of the engine block of a 1957 Chevy painted by the captain’s son, Derek, who is a promising young artist in Midway. There is a very comfortable leather chair along the north wall. Both the captain’s and deputy chief’s offices have small private bathrooms. Continuing east from the captain’s office, the next office is shared by all three of the shift lieutenants. The room contains three separate desks, each covered with personnel reports, budget requests and exhaustive lists of outstanding cases. Next door is the office of the shift sergeants. There are two sergeants assigned to each shift. The office contains two desks, each with three large, locked drawers, and each shift sergeant has a key for one drawer. The office is almost intolerably cramped considering the number of people who use it and the amount of paperwork they must collectively maintain. Outside the sergeant’s office, three large calendars are stapled to a bulletin board, one for each shift. Any officer who wants to use a personal leave day can simply write her name on the calendar on the day she wishes to take off. Up to two officers can sign up for leave in this way. If a third officer wishes to take off on the same day, he must have express permission from one of the shift sergeants. In such a case, the sergeant will typically wait until about an hour before the shift begins to see how many officers have called in sick before granting or denying the request. officers do not require permission to use accumulated sick time, but absent extraordinary circumstances, they must notify a shift sergeant at least two hours before roll call. Just past the sergeant’s office, there are two connected rooms. One is an observation room, while the other is a police lineup room. There is a large two-way mirror on the wall connecting the two rooms, and police typically station eyewitnesses in the observation room for lineups. The lineup room has a small table and chairs that are pushed to the side during lineups. The room is also sometimes used as an additional interrogation room. Next door is a small office used for the precinct’s civilian information-technology staff. All of the IT staff members are city employees hired to maintain official computer systems and technology. At the 13th Precinct, a single IT staff member remains on site for each shift, with additional personnel floating between precincts during the day. The IT room has two small desks, and is otherwise covered with cannibalized hard drives and other technological widgets that are largely incomprehensible to most of the officers. In the North-East corner of the second floor is a small, narrow office that is used to hold supplies for the janitorial staff, including cleaning supplies and large boxes of toilet paper and trash bags. There is also a mini-fridge and a couple of chairs for the use of the janitorial staff. Emmet Pritchard can often be found here at odd hours. Officially, he comes to spot check the on-site janitors on behalf of G&V Janitorial Services, which has contracted with the city to provide cleaning staff for most city offices.