05/29/2012 04:01 pm ET

Detroit Public Safety Headquarters Sees Groundbreaking On Downtown Facility To Host Fire, Police, EMS

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing joined Police Chief Ralph Godbee and community members Tuesday morning to break ground on a new public safety headquarters, a central structure officials hope will streamline operations and increase cooperation between agencies.

Located at 3rd and Abbott St. downtown, the building was previously used as the temporary site for the MGM Grand Casino, before the city bought it for $6.3 million in 2010. The new public safety headquarters will house police, fire, EMS, Homeland Security and the city's IT department. The 465,000 square-foot facility is expected to be complete in July 2013.

"This has been talked about going all the way back to 1976, but today it becomes a reality," Bing said. "The groundbreaking of this public safety complex I first proposed two years ago is symbolic of the transformation of Detroit and the result of successful partnerships with our state, federal and local law enforcement agencies."

According to Fox 2, Bing defended the $60 million price tag for the building despite the city's financial crisis and cuts to the police department budget. The funding for construction comes from a voter approved public safety bond, which Bing said cannot otherwise be used for operations.

Besides cuts to the department's budget for 2013, DPD recently rolled out a "virtual precinct" program. In an effort to divert more officers to patrolling the streets, the city now closes precincts after 4 p.m.

"I know that new buildings don't keep guns out of the hands of criminals, nor do they put out fires," Bing said Tuesday. "The courageous men and women of the Detroit police and fire departments do that, and our EMS personel save countless lives."

"I will continue to do everything within my power as a leader of this city to commit and engage all the resources possible to win this battle [against violence]," he added.

The new public safety headquarters replaces the nearly 100-year-old building housing the current police headquarters. It could also potentially hold the Michigan State Police Crime Lab, but the Detroit News reports plans for the lab are on hold as Bing negotiates with Gov. Rick Snyder.