Blue Line

New police facility better by design

August 18, 2016  By Tom Rataj

One of the highlights of a policing career is moving from an old, worn-out and cramped building to a brand-new, state of the art, spacious facility with natural light and modern design.

Durham Regional Police Service (DRPS) east division, forensic identification service (FIS) and e-crimes units members experienced such a highlight in early 2015 with a move to a campus in Bowmanville, about 45 km east of Toronto. It’s located at the west end of the town, partially abutting agricultural lands, although extensive new residential development will likely change that within the next few years.

Campus model

Instead of constructing one large building on a small lot, the 27 acre site is designed on a campus model. Two buildings and a fuelling facility have two more are planned, although they will require an additional five acres.

The site is bisected by a tributary of the Bowmanville Creek with a required 60 metre wide buffer zone, providing flood-control and some natural character. Internal driveways and walkways will eventually connect all four buildings, making it easy to move between them on foot without leaving the relative safety of the campus.


The east division building is located on the north-east corner of the property and presents the DRPS to the community. It’s the only building which the public will routinely visit. The FIS and e-crimes building is south-west of the east division building, across the greenbelt, with its own entrance to the south.

The second phase of the project, scheduled for 2023, will include the 81,072 sq.ft. regional support centre (facilities, fleet, quartermaster, tactical support, canine and property units) and 20,000 sq.ft. parking garage. The 49,300 sq. ft. investigative excellence building will house the major crime branch (robbery, fraud, homicide, sexual assault and domestic violence units) and community safety branch (polygraph, offender management, vulnerable persons, community services and Crime Stoppers units).

Clever design

The attractive east division building uses a mixed pallet of materials, including grey stone, dark brown brick, and metal panels in grey and black tones. Long, linear window runs penetrate the larger stone and brick facades, lightening the visual massing.

The building is completely accessible and seems from the outside to be multilevel, although only the cleverly hidden mechanical equipment is located on what appears to be the second storey. Many internal doorways exceed the minimum width (860mm – 34″) requirement of the Ontario Building Code for easy movement of mobility devices, furniture, supplies and equipment.

The 4,422 square metres (47,600 sq feet) building houses 170 personnel, with a maximum of 72 per shift. It has been designed for planned incremental staffing growth through 2035 so is rather spacious at this time.

Vehicle access to the site is clearly divided between a ‘police only’ entrance, controlled with fencing and an electrically powered gate, and the visitor entrance and parking area, which has no physical restrictions. Pedestrian access is by way of long, gently graded stairs and ramp from the street corner and level curb-free access from the parking lot.

The area outside the front entrance features cast-in-place concrete benches, which create informal outdoor meeting spaces while also serving as physical vehicle obstacles. Landscaping includes naturalized low maintenance gardens with new trees punctuating an otherwise plain turf area.


Police buildings, especially those used for front-line uniform operations, certainly qualify as extreme-service. Numerous features throughout the east division building were carefully planned and implemented to manage wear and tear without the need for special attention. Outside hallway corners all feature stainless steel guards while any doors likely to get extra wear and tear from uniform and equipment contact have stainless steel skins.

Much of the flooring is low maintenance and designed for high traffic, consisting of either polished concrete or concrete coated with a coloured epoxy compound. Where appropriate, such as in the administrative areas, have high traffic commercial carpet tiles.


In addition to basic security features, a bullet-proof steel plate lines the back of the public front desk counter. Large exterior windows offer clear natural surveillance outside the front desk area and the vestibule can be remotely locked on both sides to control building access.

In exterior facing office areas, higher than standard window sills provide privacy for employees sitting at their desks while still allowing for ample natural light. All rocks in the rock-garden outside the front entrance are cemented into place to prevent misuse.

To prevent slips and falls during the winter and inclement weather, floors in the public entrance lobby, primary police entrance, prisoner sallyport and SOCO bay are radiant heated, as are sidewalks outside the public and police entrances and holding room exit.

Decontamination facilities include a shower and eye-wash station in the sally port and showers in the staff change rooms.


There are plenty of windows in most office and work areas, all with separate light filtering and privacy blinds to allow tailoring to individual needs. Some interior walls also feature long horizontal windows set high in the walls so allow natural light can penetrate.

The east division building has a private interior courtyard accessible only from inside, lined on all sides with large floor to ceiling windows. The lunch-room, on one end of the courtyard, allows direct access to the outside without being visible to the public. The back hallway near the lunch-room has a beautiful three storey atrium featuring wood posts and beams, creating a nice calming light-filled space to relax during breaks.


Solar gain windows is controlled by a combination of low-E glass, deep roof overhangs, shading louvers above some windows and perforated light filtering and black-out blinds inside.

The entire campus is built on a greenfield site, requiring no remediation prior to construction. Both buildings have been designed and built to meet LEED Silver certification, which is anticipated to be awarded in the spring of 2017.

Additional environment friendly features include sound and motion activated lighting, solar heated domestic hot water system, on-demand hot water heaters and extensive use of low-energy LED lighting both inside and out. The HVAC system uses energy recovery enthalpy wheels to pre-treat fresh air exchange and variable frequency drive (VCD) electric motor controllers to more efficiently control fans.

All water fixtures – including sinks, showers, toilets and urinals – use low-flow fixtures to conserve water.

The beautiful glue-laminated (Glulam) woods beams and columns and the cross-laminated timber roof panels in the staff area corridor are all FSC certified.

The flat roofing areas feature a light coloured heat reflective thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) membrane product that is far more energy efficient and much lighter than traditional tar and gravel. It also has a longer service life, reducing future maintenance costs.

Specialized features

The FIS and e-crimes building is 2,387 square metres (25,700 square feet) and accommodates up to 27 people per shift. FIS has several specialized forensic labs and vehicle inspection garages, allowing complete investigations. There is a specialized lab for blood splatter analysis, several negative pressure biohazard labs and several different storage rooms for evidence drying cabinets and other specialized equipment.

One vehicle inspection garage is long enough to accommodate a typical semi trailer so forensic or mechanical inspection can be done indoors. One garage has an overhead catwalk on two sides, allowing vehicle inspections and photography from above. Two of the vehicle bays have radiant heated floors.

The spacious e-crimes lab has floor to ceiling windows along one wall. Each investigator has a modular standing workstation with custom server rack and multiple monitors easily configured to individual needs.

Many of the environmental and safety features are the same as in the east division building.

Steve Sestic of Dialog ( lead the site and building design and consulted extensively with staff who would work there. Construction was done by Graham Construction (

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