New location for the town’s police station?

Several years after a $10,000 assessment of police headquarters that showed the building is too small, the Board of Selectmen Dec. 19 approved a study committee to find where a new facility can be built.

The study will be led by Chris Burney, the town’s director of facilities.

“It’s time to move in a more focused way,” Burney told the selectmen, before the unanimous approval for him to begin the study.

Possibly, the Town Hall Annex could be torn down, with its occupants temporarily located elsewhere, while a new building is constructed. Another possibility, Burney said, is that the existing police station could be augmented vertically.

The police station has been outgrown for years. It was built in 1974. As of late 2013, the shooting range was where the IT officer’s desk was located.

Changes in the demographics of the department have greatly affected the effectiveness of the police headquarters.

When the building was built, the department had 25 officers, including one chief, an executive officer, sergeants, two detectives, and one or two civilians. In 2013, when the building assessment was made, there were 44 officers and six civilians, including three lieutenants, an increased number of sergeants, four detectives, and a school resource officer.

The forensic computer lab has doubled as an interview room. The evidence and property holding areas are inadequate, according to police.

The large outdoor container behind the police station is where the department is forced to hold the majority of its evidence.

The emergency operation command room, in the station’s basement, currently has a total of five uses, including roll call room and teaching classroom.

Though the police department has had female officers since the early 1980s, the building was never designed to accommodate both genders. The women’s locker room is inadequate and nearly unusable.

The wear and tear on the building is also becoming an issue.

The current department, police said, also does not fit important state requirements related to prisoner holding cells, suspect interview rooms, and other department areas.

The state has increased mandates for police stations over the last few years, according to police. For instance, interviews must be both video- and audio-recorded. Police must keep juvenile, male and female prisoners separate from one another.