Strapped for space for its officers, vehicles and evidence storage, the Brooklyn Park Police Department is about to undergo a $9.1 million building expansion.

Crews should break ground this month at the north precinct building at 5400 85th Av. N.

The project includes a new, attached 20,000-square-foot garage with space for as many as 40 squad cars and SWAT vehicles. It also will provide secure space to store vehicles held for evidence.

Currently, the department’s squad cars are parked outside year-round. The major temperature swings that Minnesota gets took a toll.

“The squad cars are so much more complex than they used to be. They all have computers. That doesn’t mix with extreme heat or cold,” said Inspector Mark Bruley.

The garage will reduce the need for idling of patrol vehicles, which will save as much as an estimated $20,000 annually in fuel, according to city records.

The new facility also will help improve some emergency response times. Police Chief Craig Enevoldsen said the department had been storing SWAT vehicles off site during winter months; now, they will be right at the garage.

The project will nearly double evidence storage space to 6,400 square feet, addressing an immediate need as well as new demands. “The property/evidence storage is full and has no future expansion to accommodate changing laws which mandate the retention of certain evidence forever,” according to city documents.

The expansion also includes new locker rooms. Currently, there are not enough lockers for the department’s 108 officers. Patrol officers don’t have individual desks, so a locker is the only personal space allotted.

The addition also will provide more office space for investigations and brass.

The goal is to create enough space for growth projected out the next 20 years. Overall the expansion will increase the police department from 48,000 square feet to 70,000 square feet. The City Council approved the construction project, which will be paid for through the sale of municipal bonds.