Lynchburg officers one step closer to new headquarters

Engineers hope to have site cleared by July

LYNCHBURG, Va. – The sound of an awning falling to the ground is the start of construction on a new police headquarters on Kemper Street. 

“Thank you. This is a dream come true,” Charles Bennett said.

The dream turned to reality for two former Lynchburg police chiefs. 

Bennett was Lynchburg Police Department's chief from 1994 to 2008. 

“Chuck Church told me when I came here we’d have a new police headquarters by 1997,” Bennett said. “I was never sure that I would live long enough to see this come to reality. I’m 72 now.”

Bennett hired current Police Chief Ryan Zuidema 22 years ago. The challenges Bennett faced then aren’t close to what Zuidema has to deal with now.

“We’re trying to run a 21st century police department out of buildings that are in some cases 50 years old, some cases over 100 years old,” Zuidema said.

Right now, officers have to work in two separate buildings. They don’t have enough space to do paperwork, and they’re dealing with retention issues. Zuidema says a new building will help boost morale.

“To have people, quite honestly, feel happy when they come to work because they’re working in a nice facility versus working in a facility that in many cases our officers are working out of are not designed, not capable of serving their needs,” Zuidema said.

Zuidema said this $39 million dream doesn’t end with him but will continue because of Bennett and others who came before him.

“It means a lot to me for them to be here today and hopefully see their legacy continue on for many years,” Zuidema said.

The engineer on this project tells WSLS it’s in the last three weeks they’ve been removing hazardous materials from both buildings and hope to have this site clear and knocked down by July.

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