NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — For years, crime in South Nashville has been the talk of the town.

Many in the area believed the solution to improving things was to add a new police precinct, but adding a new police precinct has also been a lot of talk, until Wednesday when words were met with action.

“It has been a long time coming,” said Tanaka Vercher.

Vercher is the councilwoman for District 28. She, along with other city leaders, finally were able to break ground on Southeast Nashville’s new police precinct Wednesday morning.

“For our teens that have been hit on the roadways, for our businesses that have been burglarized, for our homes that have been vandalized, this is really for those neighbors,” said Vercher.

The new 24,000 square-foot facility will take over the space where the old K-Mart used to be off Murfreesboro Road.

It will have 1,400 square feet of community rooms and nearly 4,000 square feet of green space.

The new precinct will also have nearly 700 square feet of exercise space and a wellness area for officers, and they’ll have more investigative units and undercover officers working as well.

“We need a police station here and this is going to help a lot,” said Chief John Drake.

Drake said this new precinct will help relieve some of the burden shared between the South and Hermitage Precincts.

“South Precinct is 70 square miles,” he said. “Hermitage is 90, so that’s 160 square miles between the two. So when you divide it into thirds, that’s about 53 square miles each…so that’s going to help response times tremendously right there.”

This precinct’s new commander will be Carlos Lara who, during his 15 year career, spent time working this area. Lara will also be the first Latino precinct commander for MNPD.

“We need more officers that represent these communities that we serve,” Lara said. “I think when you have those officers that represent the communities, you’re going to have better interactions and you’re going to have more trust.”

When it comes to staffing, Drake said they are currently 92 officers short compared to last year at this time when they were short 212 officers.

“We have 75 recruits in the training academy right now with four more classes this year, and then eight next year, so we’re going to be for the first time fully staffed and go above,” said Drake. “We’re going to have staffing for this precinct, and it’s going to be the first time ever and it’s going to be amazing.”

Crime isn’t going away in South Nashville, but Vercher believes this new precinct will help reduce it greatly.

“It just tells neighbors they now have an added confidence that when they call for service, when they call the police department, it’s going to be responded to more timely,” she said.

The new precinct is expected to open by 2024.