The lobby of the Wauwatosa Police Department experiences a lot of foot traffic; it's the hub for those who want to report a crime or pay a parking ticket, for reporters sifting through records and for people who want to drop off unwanted medications.
But beyond the lobby's locked doors is an entire network of offices, training spaces and employees that work toward community safety.
The police department — which celebrated its 100th anniversary in April — is riddled with history, and the department proudly displays relics in the hallways. The department dates back to April 18, 1916, when the city of Wauwatosa signed into law its creation. The city's first police station was on Underwood Avenue in the Village of Wauwatosa; the police department was on the second floor, and city hall was on the first.
Old, framed photographs of the department hang on the walls. There are mug shots of women with beehive hairstyles from the 1960s, newspaper clippings and pictures of some of the department's earliest employees.
Back then, there were about 4,000 people living in the city, according to police records. The first police chief, George Baltes, and his two officers, Fred Sporleder and Charles Stamm, would give their phone numbers to residents, who were instructed to call them directly in case of an emergency. The city's first law enforcement personnel often worked upward of 70 hours per week.
Lt. Brian Zalewski points to a framed piece of paper hanging outside his office that shows handwritten payroll logs.
'I think that's pretty neat,' he said.
Within the walls is the department's epicenter: the dispatch center. Run by two people (one for fire department calls, one for police, but the knowledge is interchangeable), the room is dimly lit and contains nearly a dozen computer screens. The center hits lulls when no calls come through the phones, but also has extremely busy times when dispatchers are communicating with victims, receiving calls from witnesses who dial 911 and listening to squad units over the radio all at once, Zalewski said.
'It's an underrated job,' he said.
The booking room
A row of blue chairs line the wall of the department's booking room. Hanging from them are a few pairs of metal handcuffs.
A set of yellow footprints are painted onto the floor, demonstrating where to stand for booking photos. Gray fabric hangs on the wall for a backdrop.
Nearby, four holding cells can hold people for up to 48 hours during ongoing investigations or for other short-term reasons, Zalewski said. Each contains a bed and toilet and is enclosed by brick walls and thick, blue metal bars. There's a larger holding cell, too, that can hold several people, said Zalewski. The air surrounding the cells is humid.
There are also a number of small, simple interrogation rooms, each equipped with a table and a couple chairs.
Indoor shooting range
One of police department's more unusual features is the indoor shooting range. There, officers can train with handguns and shotguns, as long as a state certified firearms instructor is present — there are about 15 in the department. An outdoor shooting range is steps away from the building, where officers can also train with rifles, Zalewski said.