Chesterfield County Sheriff Robert Lee told County Council members recently he could save them a pile of money from their building fund by renovating the old Chesterfield Armory with the use of his own department’s manpower and expertise. Last Wednesday, Aug. 14, Lee and his deputies celebrated a crisp, clean, comfortable, and functional new facility with an open house for the public.
Lee, who has been in office since April, said he can “only take credit for the evidence room and the indoor firing range. Everything else was under the direction of Ms. Jennifer.” Jennifer Vaughn is his administrative assistant.
Vaughn’s response to his praise, “He’s the one with the vision. But everybody has been working hard and lending a hand.”
A portion of the county’s building fund aspirations, prior to Lee’s suggestions, included more than a million dollars for additional space for the sheriff’s department. Lee told council a couple of months ago he believed he could do what was needed for about $30,000.
And now that it’s done, Lee said, “We were way under budget.”
Much of the office furniture and other items were purchased from Habitat for Humanity. Labor took the place of some expenses, such as tearing out the old dropped ceilings and painting the exposed ceiling and beams black. The bathrooms, many of which include showers, have been redone and are now functional again.
The evidence room has been brought “up to par,” said Lee. It is now complete within a locked cage space for storing evidence.
As for the indoor firing range, that’s something brand new for the department, said Lee. Previously, officers only had an outdoor firing range which did not allow them to practice at night; for safety reasons.
The opportunity to practice indoors does several good things for the department, said Lee. “First off, it’s safer. It will save money by not having to pay night shift officers to come in during the day to get in practice time. And officers can now train for night shooting, an advantage they did not have before.”
The office space alone is a blessing, according to Sgt. Daniel C. Scott. Before the move to this new space, all of the counties deputies were “thrown into one 10’ x 12’ room, all lumped together,” Scott said, at the old Health Department building on Scotch Road. That building now houses only the sheriff’s office and his administrative staff.
And last, but not least, said Lee, the huge bay area remains accessible. “It’s not been divided up in anyway.” The purpose of that he said is to be able to house rescue equipment, such as boats, “already hooked up and ready to go.” That’s the kind of thing, “those few moments of preparation,” he said, that could make a real difference in someone’s life.
— Staff Writer Karen Kissiah can be reached by calling 843-537-5261, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.