The new Sully District Police Station is slated to open this month — possibly as soon as the next couple weeks — and its first commander, Capt. Bill Gulsby, says he feels like a kid waiting for Christmas.
"Overall, I couldn't be prouder to have this assignment," he said. "One of the things I like best about this job is that it's in the fastest-growing area of the county, so we'll be able to leave an imprint. What we do in the first two years here will affect what happens to [this area] in the next 10 years, so it's very important to hit the ground running."
Built at an estimated cost of $7.5 million (from 1998 bond money), the 32,400-square-foot, one-story police station is just west of Stonecroft Boulevard's intersection with Westfields Boulevard. It will contain the new headquarters for Supervisor Michael R. Frey (R-Sully) and will greatly relieve the workload of the long-overburdened Fair Oaks District Station.
"Fair Oaks was the busiest station in the county, with close to 40,000 calls for service per year, and now we should split that," said Gulsby. "We expect the Sully District Station to handle 22,000 calls for service, our first year."
Entering the new brick building from Stonecroft, visitors will see the front desk, straight ahead. And when a magistrate is needed, one will be available via video, as at the Mason District Station.
To the right of the entryway is the large, community room for police, Sully District Supervisor and public meetings. A folding partition can divide it in half, with about 100 people on one side and 50 on the other. There's even a small kitchen, to one side, for refreshments.
To the left of the entry, behind electronically controlled doors, are offices and a community-liaison area where people may speak to police officers. There's even a separate room where children who have to come to the station for some reason may read or play with toys and video games, to keep them occupied. Also to the left is Frey's office and conference room.
To the right of the central information desk (and behind the community room) are Gulsby's office, the secretary's suite, the office of Lt. Steve Thompson — station Assistant Commander, a staff conference room, fax and copy machines and a reception area where visitors will wait to see Gulsby, Thompson or an investigator.
"Behind that are the Criminal Investigations Section offices and conference room," said Gulsby. "But we'll only fill three of them to start with — three CIS detectives and a CIS supervisor." Behind them, on the right, is the patrol-office area.
The station will open with 83 staff members, and all but four will be supervisors, patrol officers and detectives. Initially, each squad will have one less person, and there'll be no supervisor for the four-member Neighborhood Patrol Unit (bike team). Someone from within the station will fill that role temporarily.
"I would hope to be up to full staff by a year from the time we open," said Gulsby. The first complement of officers at Sully will come from other police stations in Fairfax County — including 21 from Fair Oaks. They'll later be joined by new, police-academy grads until Sully has 90 officers total.
Gulsby is especially pleased with the architectural design of the roll call, report-writing, locker and supply area of the building because the functions flow into each other in a logical manner for greater efficiency. There's a 40-person roll-call room, plus two rooms separated from it by a wall and windows, where shift officers may do their paperwork.
"There's counter space, drawers and a hutch, plus a supervisors' area," said Gulsby. "It's spacious enough for two supervisors to be in here doing their work, but it'll be running 24-7. And to the right of the supervisors' area is a report-writing room so officers don't have far to go to ask questions or to write their reports."
Another good aspect of the station's design are the separate entrances and exits to the men's and women's locker areas. Said Gulsby: "When I came on board in 1982 at the Groveton substation, we dressed side-by-side." The new building was designed to keep up with any future addition of personnel and, with 180 lockers, it's poised to expand without the need for construction.
In addition, when police leave their locker rooms, they immediately need to hunt down items they'll use on patrol, such as battery packs, keys and flashlights. So across from the locker rooms is a room where they may pick up these supplies — many of which will be conveniently hanging on a wall. Individual mailboxes for officers' mail and subpoenas are also in that room.
Also nearby will be a heavily secured armory room with extra weapons. And there's a secured, prisoner-transport area, plus temporary holding cells.
Further unique to this station is an indoor maintenance-and-storage area near the bike patrol's office, for its bicycles and equipment. Another special feature is the 25x30-foot wellness room, off the locker area. It will contain cardio and strength-training equipment.
The county's last new police station, Groveton, was built 18 years ago, but no new officers were added, as at Sully. Said Gulsby: "The last time we augmented the overall patrol service [to Fairfax County] was 25 years ago, when the Franconia station was built."
The Fair Oaks District Station currently covers more area — 88 1/2 square miles — than any other police station in the county, so Sully's station will provide much-needed relief. Its patrol area will be Chantilly, Centreville and Clifton — including the actual town and Little Rocky Run.
The result, said Gulsby, is that the response time will be reduced and there'll be better coverage and more of a physical, police presence in the community. "And having nearly double the officers in the area will give it more of a personal touch," he said. "We'll have more time to spend on community-related problems."
Sully will have a good mix of experienced supervisors, new academy grads and officers who were eager to work at this station in particular because they volunteered for it. And their talents and enthusiasm should promote goodwill for the new station within the local area.
Gulsby said it's important to establish strong lines of communication. "We need to get involvement from the communities that exist now, welcome new communities and let them know the parameters of our services," he said.
It's important to establish neighborhood patrol and Neighborhood Watch, said Gulsby. "By building up the rapport of neighbors within the community, [residents] build up a sense of security," he said. "They feel more comfortable knowing what is going on."