CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Lori Lightfoot cut the ribbon Tuesday morning on a new Chicago Police Department facility at O’Hare International Airport, providing more office space and training space for officers.
The new facility includes a new roll call room, locker rooms with showers, a modern gym, interview rooms, and dedicated space for the airport’s bomb squad, SWAT teams, and K-9 units.
“I can tell you without a doubt that this facility is a great improvement over our last facility,” said Chicago Police Cmdr. William Mullane, who has been assigned to O’Hare since 2016, when the new facility was still in the planning stages.
Mullane said the new facility also features fiber optic internet lines, which allow officers to stay up to date on all of their training, by more easily completing certification courses online.
The new police station was built on the site of an old warehouse and office space at the airport. Officers began moving into the new facility in September, and are now completely settled in to the new station.
Bowa Construction, a black-owned family business headquartered on the South Side, was the prime contractor on the construction project.
“Bowa led the coordination of more than 25 subcontractors to complete this renovation, transforming a former warehouse into a state-of-the-art facility,” Lightfoot said.
Bowa was the first minority-owned prime contractor in Illinois to be awarded an airport construction contract in Chicago.
“It’s past time that we opened up the doors of opportunity. There is always an excuse to say ‘No, it’s not your time.’ Businesses from every community should be able to compete for contracts, and win those contracts,” Lightfoot said. “Good-paying jobs should go to residents from all neighborhoods and backgrounds, and this facility is proof of what happens when we level the playing field, and when we say ‘Yes, now is your time.’”
Bowa President and CEO Nosa Ehimwenman choked up as he thanked his father, a taxi driver who used to pick up passengers at O’Hare to put food on the family’s table.
“My father always told me ‘Be disciplined, work hard, and good things will happen,” he said. “This project represents a long journey, as I mentioned. It represents, again, equity, inclusion, diversity, and change. This city has 77 neighborhoods, 2.7 million people, and it’s the first time that a prime contractor that looks like me has completed a project at the airport as a prime.”
The new police facility is part of an ongoing $8.5 billion expansion of the airport. Aviation Commissioner Jamie Rhee said the old police station was in the way of an expansion of the International Terminal.