The University of Louisiana at Lafayette Police Department is back home in Bittle Hall after a two-year, $1.475 million renovation and expansion project.
A total of 2,575 square feet was added to the building’s 5,405 square feet. Before the expansion, the department was shoehorned into about a third of the area it now occupies.
Bittle Hall opened in 1939. ULPD moved into it more than 50 years ago. For decades, police shared the building with the campus post office. In 2015, the post office relocated to the Student Union, enabling Bittle Hall to be completely dedicated to ULPD.
Tim Hanks, ULPD interim chief, said upgrades to Bittle Hall were necessary to accommodate the current staff, and provide room for the department to evolve.
The refurbished police station now has 13 offices, a dispatch room, squad room, and conference room. There’s a classroom outfitted with large TV monitors.
An extra feature: a “soft” interview room to be used for reporting sexual assaults or domestic violence. The small, cozy space is a soothing environment furnished by Project Beloved: The Molly Jane Mission. Tracy Matheson of Fort Worth founded the nonprofit in memory of her daughter.
UL Lafayette is the first university in the nation to partner with Project Beloved to give sexual assault or domestic violence victims a special area where they can talk with investigators.
ULPD operates around the clock, every day of the year, monitoring a campus of over 19,000 students and about 2,100 faculty and staff members.
Officers conduct criminal investigations and patrols, manage traffic, and are trained in forensics, emergency preparedness and defense tactics.
ULPD also establishes protocols for response to a range of potential scenarios, including natural disasters.
Bittle Hall improvements are part of the University’s Master Plan, which will guide campus growth for the next 10 years.
University Police shared Bittle Hall with the campus post office until 2015 (University of Louisiana at Lafayette/Doug Dugas).
“The department now has the infrastructure and space it needs to continue to serve our growing campus,” Hanks said.
“We have the ability to do so many more things than before, and that can only help us continue to keep campus a safe place,” Hanks said.
This article first appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of La Louisiane, The Magazine of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
Photo: A large monitor enables Sgt. Lance Frederick and other officers to scan simultaneous live video feeds from across campus. (University of Louisiana at Lafayette/Doug Dugas).