By Izaskun E. Larraņeta
Publication: The Day
Montville - Town officials say the new the public safety complex on Route 32 will bring the municipality out of the "dark ages."
The new building will house the town's police department, resident state trooper, dispatch center and animal control facility, and will have a community room for public use.
Fire Marshal Raymond Occhialini said the current dispatch center and the police station off Route 2A is so cramped and outdated that only a handful of things could be salvaged for use in the new facility. The rest is just "scrap," he said.
"We're coming out of the dark ages when we move into this building," Occhialini said. "This facility has cutting-edge technology."
Occhialini said he hopes the facility eventually will be used as a regional dispatch center.
"We're not building it," he said. "It's done."
On Thursday, workers were putting finishing touches on fixtures and getting the electronic equipment ready. The public will get a chance to tour the facility at 911 Norwich-New London Turnpike and see the ribbon cutting ceremony today at 10 a.m. A special tour just for children will be held from 3 to 4 p.m.
There are currently four dispatching stations set up. Each station has eight computer screens and is capable of, among other things, receiving emergency radio traffic, taking 911 calls, dispatching emergency services and mapping calls. There is also more room to grow.
Even the desks are even state-of-the art: They can be raised if the dispatcher wants to stand or lowered to an ergonomically correct seating level.
John Platt, chairman of the building committee, said the project was more than five years in the making. Voters approved $6.5 million for the facility, but he said it will come under budget, although he did not have final figures.
Platt said the building committee traveled to numerous police stations in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts to learn what worked and what didn't at their facilities.
"We did not just build it for the police department, but we built it for the future," Platt said. "It's going to bring police and dispatch into the 21st century."
The town currently has a resident state trooper and constabulary officers. Platt said one day the town hopes to have its own independent police department.
Platt said the building is "U-shaped" with the dispatch center at its center.
The public safety complex is equipped with a kitchen, a sergeant's room and television screens to monitor security. It even has a roll call room - standard at other police departments, but police here never had one.
There are numerous interview rooms, holding areas and an evidence room, complete with a laboratory, plus offices for the detective and administrative divisions.
The facility has four holding cells and a shower in the sally port to rinse off any messes.
There's are locker areas designated for men and women. Each locker has its own power source so officers may charge their portable radios. The locker room is divided by a fitness room - a place where officers can unwind before or after a shift.
Police and dispatch are expected to move into the facility by the end of the month.
"This is a great facility," Platt said. "It's such a dream come true."