OXFORD - Voters who supported the police when a new station was needed desperately will have a chance to see it Oct. 29. The grand opening and ribbon-cutting for the new Oxford Police Station, 503 Main St., begins at 4 p.m.
Police Chief Michael J. Boss said the spacious station has made a huge difference to local police. "Everybody is more in tune with what they are doing. It makes tough days easier," he said.
Jennie L. Caissie, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said that although grants were sought, no federal or state aid was received for the project. The $4.2 million station was funded through a Proposition 2-1/2 debt exclusion voters approved in May 2008.
The 20,000-square-foot building replaces the 40-year-old, 4,000-square-foot station at 450 Main St. and houses offices and space for 16 patrolmen, three sergeants and the chief of police.
"We are getting used to it. When I go back to the old station, I can't imagine how we did it," Chief Boss said.
Outside, the Hartland Memorial monument greets visitors with a list of departed Oxford police officers. The original granite stone, which hardly was visible beside the old station, now stands proudly flanked by wing stones near the entrance to the new building.
The station's lobby is approximately the size of the old hallway and dispatch center combined. Off to one side is the chief's office complex, and on the other is the spacious dispatch area, with two fully equipped desks, complete with internal and external monitors. The old station had a crowded dispatch area with one desk.
Alan R. Jeskey, head dispatcher, said, "We have functional equipment that is easy to access. This is great."
Rooms can only be accessed with a special electronic key and entry code. A records room, interview room and four offices open off the south side of the building, while in the center is the sergeants' room, with four large cubicles and a seating area
Police Sgt. Michael C. Hassett said, "This is a very nice and spacious area for us. I never thought I'd see it."
Across the hall and visible through glass windows is the squad room, with 10 computer stations, to minimize crowding for patrolmen.
There is a "soft interview room," where children safely can sit and relax while being monitored, Chief Boss said. "Kids under 14 can't go into a cell. In the old station, you used to see them on the floor of dispatch, asleep on a blanket, until their parents or the Department of Family Services could come get them."
Two evidence rooms, with nine secure lockers and a refrigerator with locked compartments, offer ample space for evidence storage and preparation.
A sally port allows police to back a car into a secured area before taking a suspect directly into a holding cell. A new eye-wash station in the sally port was used the first week of operation.
"It was a lovely day in August when a woman was rear-ended on Route 20. Everything was fine until her husband arrived and got in an altercation with police. He had to be Maced, and was first to use the eye-wash station. He was arrested and charged with assault," Chief Boss said.
A circular hole in the protective glass of the holding cell allows administration of a breath test with minimal contact with a suspect.
Off the booking area are an interrogation room, three cells for male adults and two cells for juveniles or females.
A problem common in cells is averted by a clever flushing system. Toilets must be flushed by police who push a button outside the cells in the booking area. This minimizes problems with prisoners intentionally flooding cells, Chief Boss said.
A Cross Match Live Scan inkless fingerprint scanner that used to sit in a cabinet in the hallway of the old police station is housed on a shelf, ready to use, in the new station.
There is an armory for weapons storage, a lunch room, a storage room and a large gym, complete with separate locker rooms for men and women. The gym is lighted from outside with two skylights and large windows. Chief Boss said the gym will likely cut costs for his department.
"I spend $3,000 a year on gym memberships. With an in-house gym, that could change," he said.
On the second floor is a large unfinished area, accessible by stairs or elevator, now used to house computer servers.
"If the town keeps growing, in 20 years we can expand up there. For now, it provides a huge amount of storage space," Chief Boss said.
Finally, downstairs, accessible from the front entranceway or the back of the station, is a large training room that seats 32. The room is fully equipped with a wireless router, white board, television and drop-down screen.
"We've already begun holding Secret Santa meetings here," Chief Boss said.
"At the end of the day, if we didn't have the good work going on, it's still brick and mortar. It's the people who make the difference, but it's a lot easier for those people to work now."
PHOTOG: ELLIE OLESON PHOTOS
CUTLINE: (1) Oxford Police Chief Michael J. Boss sits at his desk in his office at the new police station. (2) The new Oxford police station, 503 Main St., gives the department plenty of space now and for the foreseeable future. (3) Alan R. Jeskey, head dispatcher, sits in the spacious dispatch center in the new police station.