North Liberty Asking Community Support For New Police Station

Drawing of what new North Liberty Police Station might look like

The police headquarters for the fastest growing community in Iowa is in a remodeled farm house. North Liberty Chief Diane Venenga is telling anyone who will listen as she pleads for community support to build a new facility.

Chief Venenga started her law enforcement career in North Liberty in 1999 as one of just two officers in a town of 4,000. Today in a community pushing 20,000 residents she has 22 officers who are crammed into what was supposed to be a temporary police station.

Later this month, the North Liberty City Council will hold a public hearing to talk about building a new police headquarters just across the street and how such a project might be funded. Chief Venenga says her main concerns in the old facility are safety and security. The station parking lot barely has enough spaces for all the emergency vehicles and it is not fenced to protect against vandalism or theft.

The station is so small there’s nowhere for training or even for all officers to meet at the same time. The cramped interview room has no holding area so multiple people who may have been involved in the same fight or crime are sitting a few feet away in the hall able to hear every word said inside. The interview room also has a window in it. The same is true of the locker room which is used by both male and female officers and Venenga says it’s not unusual for some of them to change clothes in the hallway. The evidence room is in the basement in an area smaller than most home laundry rooms. The close quarters mean it reeks of pot and it’s not always dry.

Venenga says because the basement sometimes floods, nothing can be stored on the floor. At least three officers share each of the tiny offices on the main floor, which look more like storage rooms with boxes of equipment stacked on the floor and vests and coats hanging along the walls. Even the break room is used for storage and transferring police body camera video.

Chief Venenga says she understands concerns about spending money for a new police station and she would be happy to meet with any residents who have questions. About 50 have already stopped by to take a tour and see the challenges. Chief Venenga says North Liberty is expanding fast and in the next ten years the department may need to double again to more than 40 officers. She says she hopes the community agrees it’s time to plan for the future, “ I would expect a new facility would address all those space concerns for today and also for the next 20 to 30 years as this department continues to grow. “

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