Essex Police Chief Peter Silva is certainly right to show his appreciation to folks like resident Daniel Mayer of Mayer Tree Service, who donated the modular building that now serves as an addition to the town’s Police Department, to the anonymous donor who gifted furniture for the facility, and to residents who, at a special Town Meeting, approved the station’s needed roof repairs.
But he’s also right to note that, even with the improvements, “this is not even close to what we need long-term.”
And while it’s nice to see that Silva will give residents an inside look at the new addition – and an inside look at how the Police Department operates, something many residents never get to see — in a public open house planned for a week from today, let’s also hope that residents also come away with an appreciation for the department’s needs as well as its work.
For while the new facility has given police space to carve out an interview room, among other improvements, its space still make police work difficult. And the station still does not best serve either the department or, for that matter, its residents.
Look, the Agawam-based consulting firm of Reinhardt and Associates, in a 2011 report commissioned by the town, is on record as indicating that the town should prioritize a new public safety building to house both the police and fire departments on town-owned property John Wise Avenue. And it’s time that the selectmen move forward on that project to steer it toward Town Meeting.
Residents should take the time next week to visit the Police Department’s open house, and they, too, should appreciate the positive steps the new modular ha allowed the department to take. But take a good, close look at how crowded the department’s quarters continue to be, and ask yourself whether even the new facilities are adequate, let alone ideal, for a fully functioning modern police department.
Chances are, you’ll find the answer is “no.”