HAMPDEN, Mass. (WWLP) – Voters in the town of Hampden face a critical choice on Monday; a vote that could have a large impact on the future of their police department.
Voters are deciding on whether or not to approve a tax increase to fund a new police station, which would cost nearly $3 million.
The police currently operate out of space in the Town Hall, which 22News toured on Friday. Police Chief Jeff Farnsworth told 22News that the space is too small, and there are lots of problems, ranging from a lack of space to separate suspects and witnesses, to the fact that in the break room, officers’ lunches chill in the refrigerator alongside evidence.
Farnsworth said he’s troubled most by where officers enter the station with suspects.
“They walk down granite stairs into a cramped booking area. The potential for an officer to be injured or a detainee to be injured are significant,” he said.
The new station, costing $2.9 million, would be four times the size of the Town Hall space, and would take two years to build. It would be located near the Hampden Senior Center on Allen Street.
Longtime business owner Rosalie Bilton told 22News that she thinks the town should have a new police station.
“I’ve been down to the station many times. It’s so cramped and disorganized for lack of space, I feel they need it badly,” Bilton said.
Residents participating at town meeting gave their blessings to the new police station, but it’s now up to all the voters on Monday. Town residents would pay higher taxes during the next twenty years to finance the cost of the building.