BALTIMORE (WJZ)– City police are overhauling their western district police station in a desperate attempt to ease tensions with the community.

The crime-stricken district is known as the most challenging for officers. It’s a place that’s been dilapidated for years and is often referred to as a fortress.

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The station sits just blocks away from where Freddie Gray was arrested and the center of daily protests two years ago, but now the station has a new feel.

“We’re a couple years plus out from the unrest, I think the necessity for the cops and community to work together, needs to rally around something tangible,” said Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis.

The commissioner hopes the multi-million dollar overhaul will put behind the tension between police and the community.

“It’s a small step, small step. Still a long way to go, long way to go,” resident Tavist James said.

The renovations include:

  • Community collaboration room, formerly the courtroom area
  • Health and wellness center, formerly the evidence bay
  • Police locker rooms, formerly a cell block
  • Renovated holding facilities and booking area
  • Public reflection garden that also functions as a free WiFi hotspot
  • New lobby doors
  • New public restrooms
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“What happened with the unrest, we see a new beginning,” said president Inez Robb of the Western District Community Relations Council.

Police hope the newly renovated station turns into a community hub, so both sides can let down their guard.

“I think this will stand as a beacon of hope not only in western district but for entire city,” Davis said.

“I’m excited about what’s happening here, more importantly I’m excited about what’s happening in the western police district,” said Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh.

The western district major said she wants the place to be called home, which sounds like an odd word for a police department, but she said they are very much part of the community.

The $4.5 million renovation included investments from developer Scott Plank, the Baltimore Ravens and BGE.

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Rick Ritter