The Hempstead County Sheriff's Department is more than halfway through construction of new and expanded office space financed largely by the criminals the department pursues.

The Hempstead County Sheriff's Department is more than halfway through construction of new and expanded office space financed largely by the criminals the department pursues. The renovation and expansion of office space on the county side of the Hempstead County Detention Center is expected to be completed in March or April, according to Hempstead County Sheriff James Singleton. Singleton said the project is the second phase of a project which began with building a new roof for the complex. “According to the contractor, we're about 65 percent complete,” he said. “We started out with with about 1,775-square feet, and we squeezed a little more out to have roughly 2,000-square feet.” The project will move the sheriff's office and replace that space with a conference room, and will redivide the remaining space in the existing offices into bookkeeping and other front end functions. New space built immediately adjacent to provide new frontage to the building will include a new sheriff's office, new chief deputy's office, investigative office and deputies' work room. “We have five new offices on this side,” Singleton said. “The deputies' room now will become two offices with a hallway between those two, and those offices will be split so that everybody will have enough room to work in without stumbling all over people.” He said when the complex was built in 1994, the sheriff's side had only three offices, front desk, storage and a small break area. Singleton said the increased caseload which has developed since that time simply demanded more space, although budgetary constraints have forced him to maintain a minimal enforcement and jail force. “We had to take the little break area and turn it into the bookkeeper's office,” he said. “Now, we have more room to work with. And, one of the things we needed most was a conference room, where we could, in case of an emergency, we have the ability to gather our staff in that room and work with other agencies from there. It's in the middle of the building, where it's the most efficient.” The room will be used as a central command center for severe weather monitoring and other emergency functions, as well as personnel training and victim/family consultations, he said. “In the past, we would have been in my office; there are just two chairs in there and there is just not enough room for that,” Singleton said. The entire complex also has a new drainage system built into the roof which directs rainwater flow into a series of pipes built into the outer wall at the front of the building that drain directly into the local storm sewer system. “They put a pitched roof on the detention center and that was done with this in mind,” Singleton said. “The roof has a 3/12 pitch down to a 2/12. From the street, it looks like a flat roof, but it's not.” The specially-designed pitched roofing system will also allow for storage space above the offices where sheriff's department records now stored on the fifth floor of the Hempstead County Courthouse will be housed. The roofing replacement for the detention center was financed from capital improvement funds by the County. Singleton credited the Hempstead County Quorum Court with appreciating the irony in funding the project through a special booking fee. “I really appreciate the Quorum Court's help in getting this done,” Singleton said. “The people who are incarcerated in the back are the ones who are paying for it through the $20 booking fee. And, we hope to be good stewards of what the County has given us.”