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‘Needed for a long time’: This Tega Cay police move could serve the city for decades.

A city already known for safety now has something police there haven’t had before — a place of their own.

Tega Cay has a grand opening of its new police station planned in late July. The soft opening was Wednesday. City leaders say it’s a milestone move for police protection, and for the city served by it.

“It’s been needed for a long time,” said Mayor David O’Neal. “We’ve never had our own police station.”

Early last year the city sent out for bids to build a new station at 7705 Tega Cay Drive. An impact fee study put a $3.5 million, 14,000-square-foot station among the city’s biggest needs as more people move to the area. The previous, long-time station is 9,000 square feet.

It also wasn’t meant to be a police station.

“This is a state of the art jail,” O’Neal said. “Our old jail used to be a real estate office.”

Charlie Funderburk, city manager, said the new facility allows police to perform dispatch duties again, and it has two six-hour holding facilities, which mean less time spent transporting people to Moss Justice Center in York.

“This facility has been a long time coming and is definitely something the citizens can be proud of,” Funderburk said. “This will be a facility that will serve the city and its residents well for the next 25 to 30 years.”

O’Neal said extra elbow room means not needing to expand again soon.

“We made it a little bigger than we needed it,” he said. “As Tega Cay grows, we’ll have it.”

The mayor says police service as integral to the city’s mission.

“With safety comes a cost,” O’Neal said. “We don’t want to go cheap on safety. It’s money well spent.”

Tega Cay routinely is named by trade groups and others combing crime data as one of the safest communities in South Carolina.

“Tega Cay is known for two things,” O’Neal said. “They’re known for their police department and they’re known for their golf course. We’re known for supporting our public safety.”

In 2016 the city received accreditation, a voluntary professional standards mark only 40 of 280 South Carolina law enforcement agencies at the time claimed. The city recently completed a mock accreditation assessment and has a review again in October. The new building will be inspected as part of it.

Accreditation status helps the department with grants, and improves risk and liability for the city.

“It wouldn’t have been possible if Council hadn’t approved the funding for the new building,” Funderburk said. “No doubt. We would’ve lost that accreditation just as quickly as we got it.”

The city will invite the community to a grill out in late July to celebrate the new station. O’neal said plans are being finalized.

Already a handful of children asked the mayor if they could get a picture with him in the jail.

“You can come by and get a hot dog or a hamburger,” O’Neal said. “You can put yourself in jail. It’ll be fun.”

After the celebration city police can get down to the continued work of keeping the community safe.

“Then if you come to jail, it’s on you,” O’Neal said. “Then it’s not as fun.”

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