Wilton police HQ tour highlights poor conditions at station

WILTON — Water damage stains, bundles of loose wire and small jail cells. These were some of the things Wilton residents saw while touring the town police department on Saturday, weeks before a special town vote to determine the future of the building.

The goal of the tour was for residents to understand the working conditions of the department prior to deciding in January whether to invest in a new headquarters.

As locals walked into the station, they were brought into a narrow hallway, passing the dispatch control center before turning into the processing area.

There, residents saw four older jail cells that the department houses The department says it lacks the space it needs to adhere to state regulations — one of which is the ability to process juveniles and adults in separate sections of the building.

Officer David Hartman explained that the state demands adults and juveniles be separated by measures of “sight and sound.” At the moment, the Wilton Police Department’s processing area is not large enough to accomodate that. Hartman told the public that if the department brings in a juvenile to be processed while an adult suspect is there, the juveniles have to be brought to the other side of the building until the adults are no longer in the immediate vicinity.

As the department only houses four cells and an even smaller temporary holding cell for processing, it is difficult to separate men and women as well.

After traversing the main floor, including showing small offices shared by two officers, the group headed downstairs sans an elevator — the building does not have one.

The basement features a long-defunct firing range that “probably hasn’t been used in 15 years,” said Hartman, that is now used as storage. The three firing lanes are now filled with boxes of supplies piled high toward the low ceilings.

While Tecton Architects has yet to make final plans and renderings for a new police headquarters public, the proposal will likely double the square footage of the current headquarters, which measures at around 9,000 square feet. An unattached firing range is also being proposed near the transfer station.

Other issues with the current building include holes and water damage stains in its drop ceiling panels and a “tight squeeze” in rooms that house electrical wiring.

Additionally, the male locker room in the basement only houses two showers, while the women’s locker room features lockers bunched together for the five female officers currently employed. If another female officer is hired in the interim of a new building being constructed, Hartman said they will have to move a filing cabinet to make room.

The building’s armory is not large enough to house the weapons on-site in a proper fashion, according to Hartman. Two gun vaults currently sit in the records room on the other side of the headquarter’s basement.