Washington police force finds temporary home after Florence

Published 6:12 pm Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Of the many structures impacted by Hurricane Florence, the flooding of one building in particular has created a difficult situation for the City of Washington and the Washington Police Department. According to City Manager Bobby Roberson, the WPD station on the corner of West Third and Respess streets was flooded by approximately six inches of water at the height of the storm.

As a result, the department has been temporarily relocated to the building on U.S. Highway 264 that formerly housed the Mid-East Commission, with telecommunication operators working from Washington Fire Station No. 2 on West 15th Street.

“It’s been a difficult situation for them,” Roberson said. “The real key was relocating the evidence, which we did with a Greenville firm. The chief and his staff did a great job with that.”

From relocating equipment and evidence to establishing the communications infrastructure necessary to operate from its temporary home, the process of relocating the department has presented a unique challenge for the city, but Roberson says he hopes to see the department fully settled in its temporary home by the end of the week.

“We’ve got outstanding staff people, and it’s indicative of the public safety officers,” Roberson said of the department’s handling of the situation.


While the relocation has been a major inconvenience for the WPD, plans for a new police station have been a matter of discussion for the Washington City Council for more than a decade. In recent years, the city has put aside money to make the plan a reality — specifically a 2-cent tax increase in the 2016-17 budget for the public safety capital fund.

While Roberson says that the sitting Council has narrowed potential locations down to two sites, the group is still in the process of negotiations to seal the deal. In July, a building on the corner of North Bridge and West Third streets, former home to a Dr. Pepper plant, was identified as the top contender for the new location.

“We hope to draw that to some conclusion by the first of November,” Roberson said. “I’m anticipating they will probably stay in the building they moved to until the new station is built.”

In the meantime, Roberson says the city has entered into a month-to-month agreement with the Mid-East Commission to lease the building on U.S. 264.

As for the old building, there are a few possibilities.

Roberson says the building may be purchased by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, with the purchase price being used toward the new station. Otherwise, Roberson speculates that the building could be used as storage space for the city.

“We’ve got about four or five different locations all throughout the city, and it would be more advantageous for us to have a centralized location,” Roberson said.