By Kim Howard
Senior police dispatcher Debbie Davis can now see through walls.
Before Monday, Davis dispatched calls out of the old police station behind a glass window, wedged next to the planning and zoning offices on the first floor of the Town Hall Annex.
Tuesday morning she and new part-time dispatcher Jon Wheeler were behind bulletproof glass and bulletproof walls in the new Williston Police station. Looking at two monitors connected to security cameras around the inside and outside of the building, the dispatchers are able to see more than 20 locations simultaneously.
“It feels great,” Davis said, taking a break from sorting through huge piles of records as a result of the move. “It’s a lot more space. It’s a lot more secure.”
On Monday, Williston police moved into the new station, more than five times the size of the old one. The station is adjacent to Town Hall, on the site of the former firehouse. Town officials will formally dedicate the new station in a 10 a.m. ceremony this Saturday; public tours of the facility will follow until 2 p.m.
On June 1, the Williston Fire and Rescue Department moved into their new station at the corner of Talcott Road and Route 2. That station’s dedication and traditional building wet down ceremony will be held Saturday, June 23 at 10 a.m. with public tours to follow.
Police Chief Jim Dimmick hopes tours of the police station will help give community members a chance to better understand the processes his officers follow: An interview room in the public area of the facility is for taking initial complaints from community members; evidence lockers ensure optimal security for items necessary in court proceedings; the sally port, or garage, enables officers to securely bring an offender into the station, and take them into a processing area and then a holding cell.
“Officer safety is key,” Officer Randy Tucker said. “We didn’t have that before. With the interview rooms and the secured doors, it’s a world of difference.”
Tucker described how in the old station one or more offenders might have to sit in the officer work area; the holding cell in the old station could not adequately house multiple offenders. Now there are four secure holding cells.
Of potentially enormous benefit to the Williston community is the Howard P. Lunderville Community Room. Lunderville was the first Williston police chief. When not in use for police training, the room will be available for Williston civic and school groups to book. The space, which fits about 30 people, can be scheduled starting June 18 through the dispatch staff at 878-6611.
Dimmick said the public also should know that in the entryway to the station there is an emergency response phone that is accessible 24 hours a day, even if no one is in the building; the phone can be used to contact Williston or State police.
The station was designed to meet the long-term needs of a growing police force, officials have said. The construction of the new police and fire stations cost about $8 million combined.
“It’s very, very smart of the community to think 30 years down the road,” Dimmick said. The new police station will not require expansion in his lifetime, he added. “I can’t imagine it’s ever going to outgrow the community of Williston.”