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Gainesville police get a southside HQ
Department opens new precinct in Featherbone building
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Gainesville police officer Kevin Holbrook helps Skyler Dingler get the feel of riding a police motorcycle Thursday at the opening of the new city precinct in the Featherbone Building. - photo by Tom Reed

Twelve years after opening its precinct at Lakeshore Mall, the Gainesville Police Department now has a precinct on the south side of town.

With the donation of 2,100 square feet of space at the Featherbone Communiversity facility off U.S. 129 South, the agency has a place for six uniform officers to work, where city residents can stop by to make reports, and where a newly created unit will be based.

Police Chief Brian Kelly said during Thursday’s grand opening that the new precinct will house the department’s Proactive Community Enforcement Unit, or PACE Unit, which will include the Aggressive Criminal Enforcement officers who target and patrol high-crime areas, the department’s K-9 unit and its park rangers.

“This unit will work off crime analysis we use to identify certain crime patterns throughout the city,” Kelly said. “They’ll be working hand in hand with the community to identify and resolve issues.”

Kelly said officials with the Lanier Technical College Manufacturing Development Center made an offer of the space after police visited to conduct a security assessment.

“This facility is part of a community, and what better way to capstone it than to have your police department have a precinct here,” said Carroll Turner, director of the Manufacturing Development Center. “It just worked out. Where we can help, we want to help. The safety of the community is the whole community’s responsibility.”

The new precinct gives officers on patrol another place to stop off and make reports, and for the time being alleviates a shortage of space felt at the department’s 30-year-old headquarters.

That space crunch will be relieved later this year when the department’s new headquarters on Queen City Parkway opens. But the location of the south precinct will remain advantageous, Kelly said.

“Part of our community policing philosophy is that you work from a decentralized area from headquarters so that you can be more readily accessible to the community,” he said.

Geographically, the new precinct could help with police responses, Kelly said.

Gainesville City Manager Kip Padgett called the new precinct a result of a “great partnership.”

“It allows us to combine a lot of our specialized services into one area where we can be more effective and react quicker to any situations that arise,” Padgett said. “We’re very grateful that Lanier Tech allowed us to use some of their space for this.”

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