Former Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength originally thought moving the south precinct to a vacant building on Mike Padgett Highway was a bad idea, but at the grand opening Wednesday, he said, he was glad to see he was wrong.
“They certainly surprised me,” he said.
Strength joined Sheriff Richard Roundtree at the new south precinct substation, 3425 Mike Padgett Highway, across from Procter & Gamble in the former DJJ facility.
The sheriff’s office bought the 15,000-square-foot building, which had been vacant for five years, from the Department of Juvenile Justice for $10 and the city budgeted up to $250,000 for renovations.
The new facility offered officers at the south precinct the opportunity to move from their old location, a former movie theater.
Strength said the Southgate facility was falling apart and in desperate need of repair when he was approached about one year ago about the potential move to the vacant DJJ building.
“I wasn’t high on it,” he said. “I’d been out here and I felt the building was going to take a tremendous amount of money.”
Strength said they persisted with ideas and price estimates he felt were “very low” until the idea was finally OK’d with approval of a budget.
“We love it,” said Capt. Steven Stickland, who has an office in the new facility. “We’re still getting things settled in, but no complaints yet.”
Officials said they hope the new location will be more accommodating to deputies of the south precinct, and expect it to provide more police visibility on Mike Padgett Highway.