A ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house was held Saturday for the new Sedalia Police Department at 3rd and Kentucky.

The event featured remarks by Sedalia Police Chief Matt Wirt, Sedalia Mayor John Kehde, former Sedalia Mayor Stephen J. Gallliher, State Rep. Brad Pollitt and various Council members.

Chief Wirt expressed his thoughts to KSIS between tour groups:

“It's exciting to have everyone come by and see it,” Wirt said, crediting the support of the community, City of Sedalia and Council members to create a facility Sedalia can be proud of.

“We still have one more group to move in over the next two weeks, but we are fully operational,” Wirt said. “We're open for business.

The SPD currently has 43 officers on the payroll, but about 70 people will be using the facility on a regular basis, Chief Wirt noted.

Wirt opened up the ceremony held in the large conference room by mentioning and thanking former City Councilman Russelll Driskell, who died on Tuesday. The schedule for the open house was adjusted to allow Council members and others to attend a memorial for Driskell held Saturday afternoon at Heckart Funeral Home.

Mayor John Kehde said he was “somewhat reticent” about the whole project. “I'm a pretty frugal guy, pretty tight, conservative. Then, as it was coming together, and dealing with the complexities of the public safety and the police department, I realized this is going to be a dramatic asset, it's going to make a difference for the whole police department, with the recruiting, maintenance, staff, just general pride in the facility. I'm a believer,” Kehde said.

“This is great,” remarked Mayor Pro Tem Don Meier. “It's been a long time coming for this department. When I first went to work for the City, they had a jail in the back, with just a cage with some dividing in it, and padlocks. So they have really come a long way. This ought to be good for the next 50 years, there's room to grow,” Meier said.

Councilwoman Jo Lynn Turley was serving on the Council when discussions began to develop a plan to deliver to the voters for a new police station.

“Back in the “70s, they had a lot going on in that little tiny space, and we have only grown, and that growth was making the job for these men very challenging, so I was very excited to see them get a proper working space,” Turley said.

“We owe it to the police department to make sure they can do their job properly, and we also owe it to our taxpayers to make sure that we are paying attention to recruitment and retention, which everybody knows, if you can't hire good people and hold onto them. It costs you in the long run,” said Turley, who is serving her last term after announcing recently she was not running for reelection.

Councilwoman Megan Page said she was excited that officers will no longer have to eat their lunch on the same desk that they fill out reports.

Councilman Tollie Rowe said “the agency has changed and the responsibilities in law enforcement have changed, but the building never did,” he said. “So this is a proud moment to have a new building that these guys can work in; I'm proud of them.”

State Rep. Brad Pollitt said Sedalia is known for its Chamber, economic development, law enforcement, new fire station and now new police station. “I'd like to personally thank our men and women in blue. You've seen the violence that we're starting to see more and more of. It's dangerous out there. We can depend on them,” he said of the Sedalia Police Department.

A ground-breaking ceremony for the $4.2 million SPD HQ was held on Sept. 21, 2017. At the time, then Officer Matt Wirt of the SPD Command Staff, was involved with some of the technical aspects in planning the new structure over the past year.

“Most everybody shares an office or maybe three people. We have offices in closets, so we've outgrown the building many years ago,” Wirt said of the old facility.

The general contractor on the project was Septagon Construction Co., Inc. Septagon was the lowest of six bidders on the project, which consisted of a two-story, 18-000-square-foot facility in the 200 block of South Kentucky. The cost was estimated at $4,220,000.

Public tours of the new facility were offered from 1 to 2 p.m.

A Masonic Cornerstone Ceremony was held at 2:30 conducted by Granite Lodge No 272 A.F. & A.M. and Grand Lodge of Missouri, A.F. & A.M.

More From AM 1050 KSIS