Police: Incident with Prisoner Highlights Need for New Station
Officers say trailers in which they work can be Safety risk
For more than two years since a ceiling collapsed inside Town Hall, Kent police have been forced to work in close quarters inside two modified construction trailers parked next to the building. "We certainly have had our share of problems," Chief Donald L Smith said yesterday. Problems include officers literally bumping into one another, having to find privacy to conduct sensitive interviews, and holding prisoners in close proximity to work areas and civilian dispatchers. It hit the boiling point last week when a Kent man, under arrest on drug charges and handcuffed by one arm to a bench in the rear of the smaller of the two trailers, lunged at the officers who were processing his arrest. Police said William Haughey, 30, of Scarsdale Road, snagged several bags of suspected heroin from Officers Tara Flynn and Thomas Carey and tried to stuff them into his pants. The officers retrieved the drugs from Haughey, who then fought with them, kicking Carey in the leg and Flynn in the chest while trying to headbutt them, police said.
Neither officer was injured, and they were able to restrain Haughey by cuffing his free hand and legs to the bench. But, Smith said, the incident highlights the need for Kent police to have a real police station -- a move that is not scheduled to take place until the summer of 2003 at the earliest.
Although town residents last July approved borrowing 85 million to build a new Town Hall, library and police station on Route 52, next to the town's recycling center, it could be months before ground is broken, Supervisor Annmarie Baisley said yesterday.
Town officials are hoping for completion of an environmental report before the end of April. After that, a public hearing would be held on the report, and any concerns raised must be addressed. Ideally, we're hoping to break ground in July. We'd expect that it would take a little more than a year to complete the project, but that's weather-permitting," Baisley said.
It won't come fast enough for police, who said they recognize town officials are doing what they can. "The conditions are horrific, and the potential for what happened last week is always there because of the situation of working in such close quarters," said police Lt. Alex DiVernieri. Smith said the Town Board provided some measure of relief when it decided to replace the smaller of the two trailers with a larger one. That should allow more room for the prisoner holding area and reduce the risk of incidents like the one involving Haughey, who was arrested March 26 around 4 a.m. :
Police went to his house after they were told he punched several holes in the walls. Once there, police said they found five bags of what they suspected was his heroin. Police charged Haughey with fourth-degree criminal mischief and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, misdemeanors. Police said after Haughey's actions at the police station, they filed additional charges of harassment, a violation, and tampering with physical evidence, a felony. He was being held yesterday at the Putnam County jail in lieu of $5,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in town court on April 16.
Kent Police Detective Kevin Owen yesterday works in a tiny holding room in the back of a trailer that is serving as Police Headquarters in Kent. The department has been working out of the trailer for the past two years. The town is currently waiting for building permits from the Department of Environmental Protection to begin construction of the new Police Headquarters.
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Wednesday, January 5, 2005