Public Safety Center construction project

Public Safety Center timeline
  1. Matt Verdick

    Parks & Facilities Director
    Phone: 507-332-6105

  2. Jesse Thomas

    Additional Phone: 507-334-4391

  3. Suzy Rook

    Communications Coordinator
    Phone: 507-384-6509

Public Safety Center construction slide show

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‘Let’s go move some dirt’
County leaders break ground on new Public Safety Center

More than three years and thousands of man hours culminated Tuesday, Aug. 9 with the turn of a shovel as the Rice County Board of Commissioners broke ground on a new 83,300 square-foot Public Safety Center.

The new center will be located on Faribault’s northern edge off Hwy. 3 just east of its intersection with 30th Street.PSC groundbreaking

Rice County Sheriff Jesse J. Thomas marked the occasion by issuing a “welcome to progress.”

“Let’s go move some dirt,” he cracked.

Jim Purfeerst, chair of the Board of Commissioners, noted that the safety center groundbreaking is the first of several expected projects on what had been a Faribault Foods spray field.

It’s anticipated that much-needed housing will be located north of the Public Safety Center and that to its south, will be the beginnings of a city road connecting the east and west sides of Faribault,” he said.

“Just beyond that, the city of Faribault plans for open space to enhance the community, and commercially zoned property to bring jobs into Rice County and add to its tax base.”

The new center, which includes a 76-bed jail and offices for the Rice County Office, also offers opportunities in its focus on staff and detainee safety and well-being. With most detainees dealing with mental/chemical health issues, the facility addresses those needs with natural light, color, and space to learn, relieve stress and prepare to return to the community.

A flexible cell area will permit staff to configure the space to meet the needs of a specific population, and the jail portion of the center includes 10 times the recreational and programming space of the current facility. Included in that space is a large open area, a room for equipment, computer lab and classrooms.

The jail’s design features enhanced security with two holding units in the intake area, a large sally port that can accommodate most any size vehicle and a break room inside the secured portion of the building.

Slightly less than half the building will be used for Sheriff’s Office staff. That space will include an improved evidence storage area, three meeting rooms that can be combined into a single space and separate entrances for the public, detainees on work release and bail bondsman.

A storage building just to the rear of the facility has 1,800 square feet of training space for deputies and K9s, which Sheriff Thomas called “crucial” and noted that it will ensure deputies continue to meet the ever-increasing state training requirements. On-site storage will permit quick access to a variety of emergency vehicles, including boats used for water rescues, and UTVs and snowmobiles that allow law enforcement to access areas that can’t be reached by patrol vehicles.

Planning for a new Public Safety Center began in July 2019 after the Minnesota Department of Corrections notified the then-sheriff that the county jail was about to have its classification downgraded due to a lack of required detainee recreation and programming space. The change would limit the length of time detainees could be held in the facility to 90 days, a change that could cost the county an additional $1.5 million per year to house and transport detainees to out-of-county facilities.

The DOC has since granted the county three extensions on the reclassification based on its work to build a Public Safety Center.

The project is expected to be complete in the fall of 2024.

  1. Overview
  2. The study
  3. The site
  4. What's next?

Law Enforcement Center spring

The Minnesota Department of Corrections, in a July 2019 letter, said it was downgrading Rice County’s main jail to a 90-day facility effective Nov. 1, 2019, citing a lack of required programming and recreational space.

The change would limit the number of days a facility can hold inmates and forced the county to relocate inmates who had served 90 days in the jail to jails in nearby counties. The change would cost the county, according to the then-sheriff’s 2019 estimate, $500,000 annually to house and transport inmates from out-of-county jails to the Rice County courthouse and back. A 2021 estimate put that figure at $1 million.

County officials also noted that doing so would tie up deputies who would otherwise be performing their regular duties.

Jail Annex Building

The Board of Commissioners on July 30, 2019 agreed to conduct a study looking at the county’s needs for a jail and presenting possible solutions. That led the DOC to hold off on a change in classification, provided Rice County continued to work to resolve the shortcomings in its facility. Hired to do the study was Klein McCarthy Architects, which worked with a task force comprised of county staff (including Sheriff’s Office and jail staff) and two county commissioners, which met to consider the county’s needs and research options.

Following an April 2021 report, the board voted to build a 76-bed Public Safety Center. In September 2021, it approved the purchase of 109 acres just east of Hwy. 3 near its intersection with 30th Street for the new Public Safety Center.

Rice County has been granted three extensions on the jail reclassification, due in large part to its work to build a new jail that meets DOC requirements. The current extension expires July 1, 2023.

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Public Safety Center rendering - Aug. 2022

Rice County

Department of Corrections correspondence

Bond sale documents

Steele County

No matter how large or small, rural or urban the correctional facility may be, proper custody level, inclusive protection, medical care, or ADA considerations will apply equally. Nationally, inmate populations are sicker, older, and more in need of mental health services. Universally, correctional institutions of all sizes are acting as catchment facilities for people in need of human services.

— 2021 Klein McCarthy Architects study