New Britain aldermen shown around police HQ

Published on Sunday, 4 March 2018 21:17
Written by Angie DeRosa


NEW BRITAIN - Members of the city’s Common Council were invited to tour the New Britain Police Department Saturday morning to see its day-to-day operations.

Led by Police Chief James Wardwell, several newly elected and returning members were given a walkthrough of the 6-year-old facility on Chestnut Street.

The first stop was the Community Room, which Wardwell said is the most used room in the whole building.

The room is opened to community organizations for meetings.

“It gets people into the police department who might not for other good reasons,” Wardwell said.

He added that the calendar to reserve the room is always full because it is that popular.

“One of the best parts of the police department is this room and how it’s utilized,” Wardwell said.

When the police department opened at 10 Chestnut St. in December 2012, after leaving Columbus Boulevard, Wardwell said the New Britain Museum of American Art invited the department to look at the paintings in its vault and select a few for the new space.

As aldermen walked through the facility, they noticed the paintings in the halls and rooms.

Although the tour could not stop at the cell blocks, they were all occupied. Wardwell explained that the department has 16 cells - 12 for men and four for women. Holding cells for juveniles are out of sight and sound from the adult cells.

Wardwell said the cells every now and then fill to capacity.

In that case, the department will ask nearby towns to hold the spillover. Police departments only hold people until their next court date, which Wardwell said is usually no longer than four days.

The department has four floors: the first is dedicated to 24/7 patrol, the second to investigation, third to administration and training and the fourth - technically not part of the police department - to public safety and dispatch.

Located in the basement are locker rooms for officers and the SWAT team, a weapon cleaning room, a kennel for the two bloodhounds and three German shepherds, an evidence room, a gym for officers, a training room for the police academy cadets and a generator.

“It’s very hard to take this building offline,” Wardwell said.

The department heavily relies on technology. One piece of software used is called Crime View, which provides updates three times a day on crime trends throughout the city.

Another technology-heavy component that helps officers train is the Milo Range, a firearms training simulator.

Council members also toured the command post RV, visit the bike room (with six motorcycles, one ATV, eight bicycles and two Segways), and step inside a police tank.

Wardwell assured the aldermen that the tank is not an assault vehicle, and that it is typically used during poor weather when other vehicles cannot get around or - worst-case scenario - if there’s an active shooter.

Wardwell said that television police shows don’t often render police work realistically.

“I’ve never seen a TV show that depicts police accurately, except when they depict roll call,” he said.

Posted in New Britain Herald, New Britain on Sunday, 4 March 2018 21:17. Updated: Sunday, 4 March 2018 21:19.