CFCC design students help develop WPD’s real-time crime center

PortCityDaily.com is your source for free news and information in the Wilmington area.

Cape Fear Community College Design Students and their teacher were excited to hear they chosen to help design Wilmington's new STING center. Photo by Christina Haley.
Cape Fear Community College Design Students and their teacher were excited to hear they’d been chosen to help design Wilmington’s new STING center. Photos by Christina Haley.

Cape Fear Community College design students will have a hand in the look and feel of the Wilmington Police Department’s new real-time crime center. The students’ design concepts were the first developed in their college curriculum to be used in the real world.

The interior design students worked with the police department to design the color scheme and floor plans that will be utilized in the construction of the real-time crime center, or STING (Situational Tactics and Intelligence Nexus Group) Center, which is scheduled to start sometime in late July or early August, according to the department’s Grant Manager Malcolm Phelps.

The STING Center will help provide up-to-the-minute information to officers in the field by utilizing hundreds of video feeds, as well as gather information from state, local and federal law enforcement databases and social media to help fight crime in Wilmington. The police department will be transforming an existing room in headquarters into the new STING center.

Phelps said a former member of the police force is now in management at CFCC, and his responsibilities include overseeing the design program. The department reached out him to get in contact with the teacher and students, who agreed to help the police department design the STING center at no cost.

“We turned to Cape Fear design students and got some great ideas,” Phelps said. “And we’re hoping that will pay off in both functionality and into making it feel like someplace special.”

The class split into two groups to develop the STING center’s design, which took them about two weeks to create. According to Interior Design Program Director Tammy Powell, each group developed one design for the police department and presented them to project leaders.

WPD offices were relocated to make space for the new real-time crime center.
WPD offices were relocated to make space for the new real-time crime center.

“This was wonderful experience for the students to be able to actually see a space and select the colors for the space. It was exciting because this group of students have just finished up their first year of classes, so it was an opportunity for them to apply what they have learned in the classroom,” Powell said.

“Highly impressed” with the students’ plans, Phelps said the police department will be utilizing concepts from both designs presented to the force as a guide to make the STING center different from any other room within its headquarters.

The students met several challenges at the start of the project, such as discovering each other’s strengths and assigning different duties with their group. Then, they put their heads together to create a timeless design for the police department that would meet all the needs of the STING center.

Carter Lammers, 29, is one of 10 students in Cape Fear Community College’s 2-year interior design program. She was excited to learn the police department was not just seeking help with paint colors, but also a concept for the look of the center.

“I thought it was really cool, just the concept of the STING center,” Lammers said. “We’re helping them design it so that it’s not only a successful work place, but that they’ll be able to fight crime better using that facility. So the idea behind that and what they’ll be doing there is awesome.”

Another student in the design program, 23-year-old Amber Forbes, said it was fun to take what they have learned and apply it to a real-world experience.

STING update lede photo
A second group of students created a board that laid out their floor plan and design scheme. The board was used in their presentation to the police department.

In considering their designs the students developed ideas for a professional and innovative setting, chose paint colors, redesigned the entry hallway, implemented the STING center logo into the room, and designed a glass conference room. They also helped design the center’s video wall and recommended placement of the center’s work stations, cubicles, and furniture.

“It was our first chance to really put our practical skills to use in the community,” Forbes said. “We do problems that are real world, but this is where we actually got to work with a real client where they are actually going to use aspects of our design. I thought that was cool!”

Some of the designs students used in their floor plans were very similar, Forbes said, adding that both her group and the other picked the color grey for the focal point of the room, which will be the STING center’s video wall.

Phelps said that video wall is going to include eight 55-inch monitors that will display real-time video feeds and other information needed to combat crime in the city. Six work stations will be arranged in front of the wall.

The goal was to create a modern, contemporary, high-energy and functional work space suited for the high-tech work environment in the STING center, Phelps said.

“We wanted to make it timeless for them, but we didn’t want to make it boring…it was just a really good learning experience,” student Demishia Alford said, who at age 18 is the youngest student in the interior design program.

While looking at the two groups’ concepts, Phelps said they hope to implement a honeycomb pattern on the walls and recessed lighting lining the ceiling and walls of the hallway at the STING center’s entrance.

Lammers’ group designed the lighting pattern in the hallway, while 23-year-old Morgan McMillan helped her group design the honeycomb pattern for the center’s walls. McMillan said the idea of the honeycomb pattern was inspired by a room depicted in ABC’s television series “Agents of the S.H.I.E.L.D.” – a sci-fi drama based on the Marvel comic.

“I thought bees [and] honeycomb. It looks cool and it looks high-tech,” McMillan said.

A hallway lighting concept a group of students presented to WPD.
A hallway lighting concept a group of students presented to WPD.

Although construction is set to begin soon, a launch date for the STING center has not been announced, Phelps said, adding that there are many “moving pieces” of the project and training that has to take place before the STING center is in full gear.

In May, Wilmington City Council approved $228,640 in federal forfeiture funds collected as a result of drug seizures, which will pay for the STING center’s equipment such as hardware and software, as well as furniture and carpet replacement in the center. The city also included $117,000 in the budget for this fiscal year for three crime analysts who will be based at the center.

At their regular meeting on Tuesday, Wilmington City Council is set to consider approving contract of $125,370 with Brady Integrated Solutions for items needed to establish the STING center, including its video wall, work stations, network access, programming, training and labor. When the center is complete, Phelps said the students will be invited to the police department’s STING center to take in the final product.