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The Farmington Police Department substation, which will open at the end of the month, will help decrease the department's response time to situations on campus, as well as provide space for officers to complete activities such as paperwork.

Facility designed to increase officer involvement with campus

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FARMINGTON — San Juan College and the Farmington Police Department have collaborated to open a police substation inside the college's Health and Human Performance Center.

"It's one more way of encouraging more officer involvement with the campus," Farmington police Chief Steve Hebbe said in an interview on Friday.

Hebbe added the substation, which will open at the end of the month, will help decrease the department's response time to situations on campus, as well as provide space for officers to complete activities such as paperwork.

The college has posted decals and signs to help visitors locate the substation, which is in an office near the facility's lobby.

RELATED: Police undergo crisis intervention training | Police arrest eight in San Juan County crime ring

During a visit to the substation on Friday, Farmington Police Department School Resource Officer Ron Paquin said the location can be labeled as "neutral turf" for officers to conduct interviews because it is a quiet, safe place.

When asked about the importance of substations to law enforcement, Paquin said, "They are very important, especially for the community because community members know where they can go."

The police department also has substations inside the San Juan Health Partners Urgent Care clinic at 4802 E. Main St. and the McCormick Substation on the south side of Farmington.

The college has a Department of Public Safety, which has security personnel who take the lead in responding to situations on campus, as well as a school resource officer from the police department.

Aside from helping the college security team address situations, the department wants students and faculty members to feel safe, Hebbe said.

"We want them to know we're in the area, but we don't want to have a big footprint up there," he said.

Dave Eppich, vice president of student services for the college, said the substation was situated in the Health and Human Performance Center because the building is easy accessible for officers, students, staff members and the public.

"We are about being proactive about the safety of this institution, and determent is the best way to provide a safe environment," Eppich said.

Darren Wayman, assistant director for the Department of Public Safety for the college, said the substation was developed to allow officers 24-hour access.

"It's a very secured location," Wayman said.

He added the college's relationship with the department extends beyond police providing safety and responding to calls. The department also provides training to security personnel, Wayman said.

The college is planning a community opening event for the substation on March 29.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.

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