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The Safe Room

What if you were being followed and felt threatened? What if you were in a dangerous home situation?  If you were scared that someone would hurt you and you wanted police protection?    

When I toured the new Cookeville Police Station, located at 1019 Neal Street, about a month ago, my take-away was the Safe Room – the first thing I saw after entering the lobby, only five steps to a gray door labeled Interview Safe Room. 

I was told that the Safe Room is available for anyone, anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but I wanted to know more.

            Recently, I sat inside the Safe Room across a table from Lieutenant Anthony Leonard, the Cookeville Police Department Public Information Officer. “Can anyone come to this room anytime?  Is that why it’s here?” I asked.

            Lt. Leonard nodded.  “It’s a monument of a safe place.  The police department provides safety to the community. This room is that.”  Indeed, it is a monument, a perfect example of a safe place. 

            “It’s built with concrete walls and the two doors are ballistically rated for gun safety,” Lt. Leonard said.  It’s a small room, 9’ x 12’.  The walls are painted gray and the room is furnished with only a small desk and three office chairs.  “There are other safe places, but this one puts you in immediate contact with a police officer.”

            I asked if a police officer would immediately come into the room when someone entered it.  Lt. Leonard explained. “No, but the police dispatcher (about 100 feet away down the hallway) will immediately know someone is here.” He pointed to an overhead camera. “When you close the door and turn the dead bolt lock on the door that you came through, you are safe.”

 “To talk to the dispatcher, push the lighted blue circle beside the door.”  The lighted circle is an AI, Artificial Intelligence, a security device that provides video and audio. “The dispatcher will send an officer who will come into the room through the other door that can be opened only with a pass key.  The dispatcher can continue to see and hear everyone in the room.”

“So, if I’m afraid of being hurt or I’m followed in my car by someone with road rage, I can come here?” I asked. 

“Yes, but 911 is always the go-to phone call,” Lt. Leonard told me.  He explained that the 911 call-taker can give directions to the police department and call the police dispatcher. Then a police officer could meet me outside the building, but the Safe Room is available without calling 911.

            Many people spent years designing and building the new police headquarters.  I was impressed by the detectives’ cubicles, the chief’s office, conference rooms, break rooms, interview rooms, and other offices.  They thought of everything – even a Safe Room.

As I left the police station, Lt. Leonard reminded me that anyone who is threatened should first call 911 and the Safe Room is always open, 24/7.


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