ST. CLOUD -- St. Cloud police officially opened the city's first ever Community Outpost (or COP House) Friday afternoon.

The COP House will be a central hub for law enforcement and public safety officials to work with the community and reduce crime in the heart of a troubled neighborhood.

Officer Dan McClure was instrumental in getting the project started. He says he can't wait to see how the house intertwines into the community.

"This is a community coming together. I hope we're here for many years to come and more COP Houses to come because our community is great."

The house is a first-of-its-kind in the state, and was inspired by a similar program in Racine, Wisconsin which saw a 70 percent reduction in violent crime in the area surrounding the house.

Police Lt. Lori Ellering says the house is not just a place where officers go to fight crime. They have other ideas on how to utilize the house.

"Four days a week we are running English learning classes, we are having a mentoring program, we are working on a partnership with St. Cloud State Athletics, so it's a lot more than the crime fighting element."

Ellering says they will have three to four officers using the house when they are not patrolling the neighborhood streets. Their salaries are funded thanks to a federal grant.

The project cost about $400,000 to build and was funded through donations from construction services, cash donations and the St.Cloud Rotary Club.

(Photo: Alex Svejkovsky, WJON)