By Catalina Righter
There is still a smell of wet paint around the Chestertown Police Department at 601 High St. The police moved into the former Carrot Top Childcare and Learning Center, during the first week of February and found that some of the decorating choices — the bright yellow floor tiles and butterfly wall murals — were not quite befitting a police station. The upgrade to 8,000 square feet of space from 1,800 in their old location at 333 Cross St. has made “an enormous difference,” according to Chief of Police Adrian Baker.
One of the biggest benefits of the larger space is that it allows more secure sight and sound separation for juveniles who have been arrested, as required by law. It also allows the option to separate two adults that may harm each other. “Before, if two guys were fighting, you had to bring them in and lock them up on the same bench,” said Baker.
A new, separated interrogation room will make it easier to gather information from those involved in a case without the interruption or background noise that were present in the old, one-room space, according to Baker. A climate-controlled room holds the servers and equipment that modern police departments rely on, and there is a large kitchen area left over from the facility’s use as a daycare. In the lobby, a newly-built reinforced booth with bullet-proof glass protects the receptionist’s desk. Upstairs there is a conference area where officers can complete education and training. This will lead to convenience and money-saving in the future.
The two-floor building also offers more bathrooms. Formerly, there was one bathroom shared by males and females, officers and suspects alike.
The biggest reminder that the new facility was once a daycare is the playground outside. “My officers would probably just get stuck in the slide,” said Baker jokingly, so the department plans to donate the playground equipment to an organization that will make it available for children in the community.
The space that the playground currently occupies can then be used to hopefully build a sally port within the next few years. A sally port is essentially a secured garage-like structure that will have an entrance for vehicles and an entrance directly into the building. This will allow officers transporting detainees to pull into the sally port and lock the port doors before letting the person out of the vehicle. This makes it harder for them to escape and serves as a secure area for those who may be violent. In addition to the sally port, Baker also hopes to build a fence around the parking lot area to better protect police vehicles. “We can be a target for people who want to key cars or slash our tires,” he said.
Other future additions include a locker area so officers can more easily get in and out of uniform and an exercise area. Due to the physical demands of the job, “one of the biggest ways officers get injured is through gravity,” Baker said. With exercise equipment available on-site for all, he hopes that the number of injuries will go down.
Overall, the new location is more centrally located in town and allows the police to be more integrated into the neighborhood. To illustrate, Baker pointed out that since moving, the police had already carried out several drug search warrents within sight of the new building. “I imagine that makes some people very happy and some people very unhappy,” said Baker.
For more information about the police department, go to http://townofchestertown.com/government/police-department/.