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Inside Seattle’s controversial police precinct

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SEATTLE – Plans to build a new Seattle Police Department North Precinct, nicknamed “The Bunker” by opponents, have been at the center of anger and controversy – in part, because of the initial $160 million price tag.

Some, led by Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant, have demanded that the money instead be spent on building 1,000 units of affordable housing.

“It’s a question of political priorities,” Sawant said. “What are our most urgent priorities? Even if we agree that the building is not in the most pristine of conditions, what is the most urgent thing? I think everybody who’s concerned about public safety will also agree that affordable housing rises at the top of the list because it is the crisis of affordability in this city that ultimately leads to un-livability in this city. It exacerbates the problem of homelessness.”

Meanwhile, the city’s current North Precinct, built in 1983 and opened in 1984, is out-of-date and overcrowded. Over the last three decades, the number of personnel working out of the building has grown from 115 to 250.

Nancy Stachey, with the city’s Finance and Administrative Services Department, serves as property manager for all of the police department’s precincts. She said the current building has not fit the needs of officers or the community for years and desperately needs to be replaced.

She took Q13 News on a tour of the building to highlight its current challenges, including a lack of office and storage space, leaking windows, a limited number of holding cells for prisoners, and a fitness room in the building’s basement that was “never conditioned to be occupied by anybody.”