March 10, 2001

KENT, N.Y. —

There were no balloons, no streamers, not even a cake.

Friday was the first anniversary of a building collapse at Kent Town Hall that forced police into old, cold, dilapidated metal trailers. They never imagined they’d still be in temporary quarters a year later.

Officer Kevin Owen, president of the Kent Police Benevolent Association, said the officers are disappointed. “We are no closer to resolving the situation today than we were the day the ceiling came crashing down into the police station,” he said.

The trailers are not the safest environment for a police department to call home, he said. “We don’t have any say whether town officials will construct a new building or renovate the old building. All we know is that the current situation is extremely dangerous to not only the officers but to anyone visiting headquarters as well.”

Detective Kevin Douchkoff, called the situation an embarrassment. “The town did their best in a short amount of time. However, If a resident of the town attempted to do this, town officials would shut them down. It appears as though the town board can’t agree which way to go on any direction when it comes to resolving the police station issue.”

Douchkoff told of a rape victim who came to police headquarters two weeks ago. “I tried to interview the young woman while being sympathetic yet I had no privacy to conduct my interview. The situation is unprofessional,” he said.

Sgt. Jerry Raneri, a 21-year veteran of the force, commended his men for “putting up with these conditions as long as they have. Morale is extremely high despite the incredibly poor working conditions. It’s extremely embarrassing to have anyone come into the office to file a complaint. After all, this is the 21st century, not 1843.”

Kent Police Chief Donald Smith echoed his officer’s sentiment — that police were working in “positively atrocious conditions. We’ve been given promises on promises. The bottom line is the town board has failed us and the people of Kent. There are no more excuses.”

Supervisor Annmarie Baisley blamed disagreements among members of the town board for the delay.

“We should have gone in and cleaned up the first floor of the building immediately,” she said, “but the board could not come to a consensus. I’ve tried to work with everyone concerning the police station mess. It should have been cleared up in three months and not dragged on for a year.”

Councilwoman Christine Woolley alleged the delays resulted from a “lack of cooperation between the administrative branch of government and the town board. I appreciate the work that the police have been doing in terrible conditions. Like my colleagues on the board, we understand the officers’ frustrations. I want this situation rectified as soon as possible.”

Baisley said she empathized with the officers, but “we all pay taxes here. There is not a single department in Kent which is not housed in extremely tight quarters. There are no Taj Mahals found anywhere in Kent town government.”

Smith said he had heard over and over again that “members of the Kent Town Board really care. All I can say is that actions speak louder than words.”


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Wednesday, January 5, 2005