PORTSMOUTH, R.I. (WPRI) – Town officials gathered Wednesday morning behind the current Portsmouth Police Department building to break ground on a future, bigger police department building.

The department has been working in a building dating back to 1975, which got one remodel/expansion in 1995. Chief Thomas Lee said the time had arrived to start anew.

At the time the current facility was built, the department had just 13 officers.

“We have 35 now,” Lee said.  “Including six female officers that we didn’t have then. We’ve greatly outgrown the space.”

There’s only one locker room for officers to change from uniforms to civilian clothes, and those female officers currently have to change in a closet, Lee said.

Space for prisoners to be held pending charges is also cramped, and some of the technology hasn’t been updated since the 70’s either.

The new building will improve communications operations and also accommodate fire department communications eventually.

The project of building a new headquarters had to be approved by town residents. Voters passed a $10 million bond for the new facility.

Construction is expected to be complete in 2018.