Almost $90 million for new HQ for Sheriff Joe, 911 call center

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By Alicia Barron By Alicia Barron

PHOENIX – The price tag for a new 911 call center and headquarters for Sheriff Joe Arpaio is running close to $90 million.

Nevertheless, Maricopa County officials say it is a bargain for county taxpayers.

The county hopes to soon begin construction on a six-story building in downtown Phoenix near Fifth Avenue and Jackson Street. Even though the nearly $90 million in up-front costs may sound like a lot, county officials say it’s a good deal for taxpayers.

“Our equipment is extremely outdated," said Cmdr. Jesse Locksa with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. "We are at what they call the ‘end of life’ for our equipment. The technology we have now is considered ancient. It’s like 10 years old.”

That is just one of the reasons why the county needs a new 911 call center.

It’s not just the equipment that’s getting old, it’s also the building in which the current 911 center is housed.

“It was put up like in the early '60s, I believe," Locksa said. "It’s not in real good condition. The wiring, the battery back-ups, the general system and I guess you could say the reliability of some of the systems is questionabl.,”

So where should the county place the new call center? Complicating matter is that a new headquarters for Arpaio is also needed.

“Maricopa County has a philosophy where it prefers to own the property in which county business is done rather than wasting taxpayer dollars by leasing it,” said Cari Gerchick with Maricopa County. "By building a new facility and putting the 911 center in there, that really creates a kind of a synchronicity of having people together who need to be together.”

County officials hope to have the building open for business in two to three years.