New Public Safety Center Could Be Built Next To Jail Site

SMITHFIELD – The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office, Emergency Management and 911 Center could relocate from the Johnston County Courthouse to a new Public Safety Center on Highway 70 East of Smithfield.  Last week, Johnston County Commissioners voted 7-to-0 to approve funding for the design of a new Public Safety Center, which could be opened in 2022.

The new county jail is being built on Highway 70 just east of I-95 near Yelverton Grove Road. Construction on the jail is 15 percent complete and on schedule to open in April 2022. There is enough space on the property to construct a new two story Public Safety Center (Law Enforcement Center). The first floor would house the Sheriff’s Office including administrative offices, investigations, narcotics division and a training area.  The second floor would house Emergency Services, the Emergency Operation Center, 911 Communications and related offices. There would also be a separate freestanding Evidence Storage building for the sheriff’s office.

Proposed plans include 119 secured parking spaces for staff and 50 unsecured spaces for visitor parking.

Sheriff Steve Bizzell told commissioners he has been looking at ways to save money on construction costs. “We have went from room to room, even down to the janitors closet… We have looked at this from the eyes of the folks we work for and I think we’ve done a good job with it.”

Commissioner Patrick Harris said, “It’s a great looking facility.”

Commissioner Ted Godwin said the new Public Safety Center would create needed space in the courthouse.  “We need to open that space up.”

Under the current timeline, the design phase of the Public Safety Center will be completed by the end of January 2021.  If approved by commissioners early next year, the project could be advertised for bids in May 2021, with bids being opened and a contract awarded in June 2021.  The building could be completed by mid-2022.

Preliminary costs for the Public Safety Center and separate Evidence Storage Building are $17.98 million.   The cost does not include a 911 communications tower at the site which is projected to cost $150,000.