The village hopes to build a storage garage for specialty vehicles, which would also serve as a “sally port” for the police department in an empty lot abutting 501 and 517 Desplaines Ave.
The new building will serve two purposes: to provide environmentally controlled garage shelter for vehicles and serve as a drive-in security entrance where prisoners can be unloaded securely.
The Zoning Board of Appeals met Monday night to approve the sally port, which will require a variance because it will reduce the rear setback from 25 to 8 feet, including the alley.
Sally ports are a safety feature of modern police departments, the department argued. There is no other site to locate a sally port, the zoning documents said.
A retired fire department ambulance is used for the department’s “special response team.” It’s used to respond to high-risk incidents which require reliable transport, the department said in the memo.
“The diesel vehicle currently is parked outdoors and requires significant warming times during the cold seasons,” the memo says.
The secured space will allow police squads or ambulances to enter the building without removing prisoners from the vehicle. A sally port gives police one more layer of protection to prevent prisoner escape.
The building is being paid for by forfeiture funds from the U.S. Customs Department. A Forest Park officer has been working with the department for almost 10 years. Forest Park police get a cut from the value of seized U.S. Customs contraband. The fund has paid for several police vehicles over the years, Mayor Anthony Calderone said.