Berlin council eyes joint approach to work on cell doors

Published on Sunday, 14 January 2018 21:44
Written by Charles Paullin

Staff Writer

BERLIN - New detention cell doors at the police station, costing no more than $30,000 and built in partnership with other towns, will be discussed Tuesday by the Town Council.

The current detention cell doors are original to the 43-year-old building and do not meet current standards. Three cells are for men, one for women.

Police Chief John Klett, at a December Police Commission meeting, said the department has had to spend $46,000 in overtime costs since September 2016 to pay an officer to watch the cells when no other staff is around, such as on evening or overnight shifts.

In September 2016, a detainee tied his long-sleeve shirt around his neck and the cell bar doors in an attempt to hang himself, Klett said at that meeting. An officer saw the inmate’s attempt via video surveillance and another officer was able to make it to the cell in time to save the detainee, who had turned purple, Klett said.

“We need the jail,” said Klett in December. “Fortunately, we were in the building at the time. If he had done that on a weekend or midnight shift, we would have never gotten in here in time fast enough to save him,” he added.

If someone is in the building, overtime is not needed, Klett said. The line item was 4 percent over the overtime last year, Klett said.

According to a letter by Jacunski Humes Architects, a project solely focused on Berlin’s needs is unlikely, as the only two manufacturers of the cell doors are in Maryland and Ohio.

Jacunski Humes suggested packaging the local project with those of the Trumbull and Orange departments, which are looking for similar work. Those departments are looking to replace eight and seven cells, respectively.

Trumbull has already contracted with Bismark Construction of Milford.

Jacunski Humes Architects is under contract with Bismark Construction to provide design services for Trumbull. The idea of the joint project is to make it more enticing to the limited number of manufacturers available.

The manufacturers would work as subcontractors to Bismark Construction, which would coordinate the timing, ordering and installation of the project for all three towns.

Bismark Construction would also coordinate additional work required for cell renovation.

The Orange police department is receptive to the idea, according to Jacunski Humes, and the Trumbull department is awaiting final signing of its agreement. A separate design-and-build is possible for oversight of work in Berlin.

Funding is available in the capital projects account for not more than $30,000. Klett has requested a bid waiver to enter into a design/build agreement with Bismark Construction.

The Police Commission discussed using cells in New Britain at its December meeting, but a Berlin police officer would still have to go to New Britain if that department didn’t have anyone available to watch.

Communication isn’t always good in such instances between the two departments, either, Chairmen Bob Peters said.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in Town Council Chambers of Town Hall, 240 Kensington Road.

The council also is also expected to discuss the recently received over $500,000 in state grant funds to acquire 861 Farmington Ave, and a rail spur near the Berlin Steel site.

Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or

Posted in New Britain Herald, Berlin on Sunday, 14 January 2018 21:44. Updated: Sunday, 14 January 2018 21:46.