Norwich police say they're working in outta-space

Norwich Police Chief Louis Fusaro, third from left, talks about the need for storage space while in the Records Division with boxes of files stacked on desk tops and the floor because there is no spot left to place them. Fusaro was giving members of the Police Station Committee a tour of the station on Thursday to show them why Norwich needs a new one.
Norwich Police Chief Louis Fusaro, third from left, talks about the need for storage space while in the Records Division with boxes of files stacked on desk tops and the floor because there is no spot left to place them. Fusaro was giving members of the Police Station Committee a tour of the station on Thursday to show them why Norwich needs a new one. Dana Jensen/The Day Buy Photo

Norwich - Members of the police station committee saw boxes piled atop boxes in the police station records room, older files in the "mechanical room" - including some that date back to the 19th century - and emergency overnight cots and patrol bicycles in the pistol firing range.

The newly formed committee took an hourlong tour of the police station Thursday and then peppered Police Chief Louis Fusaro and other department leaders with questions about the station and what is needed in a new one.

The committee was formed in March by the City Council after voters rejected a plan for a $33 million downtown police station in a November referendum. The committee will review the previous needs assessment used to design the proposed new station and will consider possible locations for a new station.

The rejected plan called for renovating the former Sears department store at 2-6 Cliff St. and using several vacant surrounding lots to expand the building.

The committee Thursday quickly learned the limitations of public meeting space in the building, as the 13-member committee and police and others crammed into the chief's conference room to start the meeting. Following the tour, they moved to the police classroom in the lower level.

Fusaro said the classroom is the only place for community events, including group tours or meetings with scout troops and other groups.

The prisoner booking area and holding cells are nearby, however, and if suspects are unruly or loud, the station guests can hear the commotion.

The station has six holding cells for men and two for women with traditional metal bars on the doors - a 19th century feature, the chief said. New police stations have safety glass fronts and higher ceilings to keep light fixtures out of reach.

"You can hang yourself on these," Fusaro said.

Throughout the building, Fusaro and Deputy Chief Warren Mocek pointed out where officers and supervisors share desk space with locker rooms or interview rooms. Sgt. Peter Camp, the supervisor of the new community policing unit, has his office in the supervisors' locker room. He arrived as the committee was touring the room.

"Sorry, my office is a mess," he told the committee.

The group also went out the lower level rear door employee entrance to view the outdoor parking lot for employee vehicles and the police fleet. The parking lot was designed for 40 vehicles and now has to hold more than 60, including the large police incident command truck.

"That's a $400,000 piece of equipment sitting out there," Fusaro said pointing to the truck.

c.bessette@theday.com

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