AMHERST, Va (WSET)- Some call it a game changer for the town of Amherst. The police department is about to undergo a massive move.
Amherst Manager, Sara Carter, said town council voted unanimously Wednesday night to approve the purchase of Charlie’s Chicken restaurant for $190,000. Carter said the money is coming from the town's general fund. The space is 4,000 square feet, including the basement.
The police chief says it’s needed. This new space would be about six times bigger than their current space.
“Right now we are in the police department,” Amherst Town Police Chief Robert Shiflett, said as he point to the small hallway. “What you see is what we got. We have four offices for seven guys.”
The current Amherst Town Police department is located in a small part of town hall. Shiflett says it's just 600 square feet, which is smaller than many apartments. And with seven people in the department, one part-time, it can get a little crowded.
“We are kind of stumbling over each other while we in here sometimes,” Shiflett said.
Major Greg Harler has been with the department for 14 years.
“Its all we had, so we made the best of it,” Harler said.
To say the least, he is excited about the move.
“We now have room for storage, for evidence and other things,” Harler said.
Currently the department borrows a lot of that space or travels elsewhere.
“Today we have training going on and we have to use the town hall center to have the training,” Shiflett said.
Charlie Brown, also known as "skippy," owns Charlie's Chicken and has owned the building for 40 years. He said he is ready to retire now.
“I'm 77 years old and at that point we decided to step back. My wife is 75 so we decided to sell it to the town,” Brown said.
He believes it will serve a better purpose.
“My son served in the police department for 30 years,” Brown said. “I wanted to do something positive.”
The Amherst police chief says the move will make the department more attractive to future employees and build moral.
“People that are looking for jobs, they see this and what the department is doing right and say, 'I want to be a part of that',” Shiflett said.
Shiflett says it will take them several months until they will be operational in the new building.
The owner of Charlie's Chicken says the last day they will be open is Saturday.