New Police Station Project Page
August 21, 2023 - Presentation to Town Council re Police Station Massing Options
"The police facility continues to be very cramped. We operate out of a facility of 9,000+ square feet that houses 75 full time employees. We have run out of office and storage space and have sacrificed floor space to other needs. This has a direct impact on our ability to do the job the best way possible."
Stephen MacKinnon, Chief of Police
From the 1998 Town Report
The following is a quick history of the actions taken through the years to advance the cause of an updated, properly sized facility for the Salem Police Department.
The need for an updated Police Station dates back as far as the 1970's. A warrant article from 1976 Town Meeting provided for a roughly 5,000 ft2 addition, bringing the Police Station to a total of 8,600 ft2 for a department of 50 employees. The Department soon outgrew this space. In 1999, the Town added 2 trailers to the property to address space needs as the department grew to 75 employees. This represents the last addition to the current site.
Space deficiencies remained and in 2002 the Selectmen commissioned a Building Committee to study the needs of a new facility, with a report and plans to be ready for 2004 Town Meeting. The Committee had three tasks: (1) choose the location for the new Police Station; (2) determine building space needs today and for the next 30 years; and (3) determine what taxpayers in Salem can afford to pay in taxes for a new Police Station.
The Committee voted that the building design shall be for a 28,800 square foot building, including a schematic expansion plan for 6,500 square feet to be located on a town-owned parcel of land on Lawrence Road and accessible from Sally Sweets Way. This advanced to Town Meeting article 22 which would have committed $7,450,000. Despite winning a plurality of affirmative votes, the measure failed to meet the required 2/3 votes necessary to issue a municipal bond.
Following this vote, the Board of Selectmen in 2006/07 tried a new approach for a station that responded to criticisms dealt during the previous process. The new approach included a reduced police station footprint located on the existing site, focused solely on departmental needs and utilizing a Design/Build approach. Plans were drafted, a contractor was selected and the measure was moved to the Town Meeting warrant article with a total cost of $7,135,712. Again, the measure failed.
In 2008, the Town undertook modest improvements and replaced the 1999 manufactured units with 3 new ones. At this point, there was a total of 13,880 ft2 for 75 employees.
In 2015, the Town tried again with a concept for a Public Safety Complex to house both Police and Fire, with the departments co-located on the Police Station parcel. The project had a total cost of $23,480,000 and would have provided 26,535 ft2 for Police and 27,830 ft2 for Fire. The measure was unsuccessful.
More recently, the Town Selectmen assembled the Municipal Building Advisory Committee (MBAC) to revisit the Police facility among others. The choose the location for the new station, determine building space needs for the present and next 30 years and determine what Salem taxpayers could afford to pay for a facility. The current plans and decisions are driven by the MBAC goals and process.
The Salem PD is committed to providing opportunities for the public to see the Station for themselves. We invite you to speak with guides about the existing conditions and the space needs of a modern operation. We have already hosted the Council/Board/Committee members and have scheduled a series of regular open houses on Tuesdays and Saturdays for the general public. Click here to see the schedule and sign up.
To date, we have completed 10 guided tours from August through the end of September.
Further, we are providing additional outreach opportunities by participating in the following community activities, as follows:
|Aug 1, 2023||5:00 pm to 8:00 pm||National Night Out; Salem PD|
|Aug 27, 2023||11:00 am to 4:00 pm||Family Fun Day, Field of Dreams|
|Saturday 9/30/23||9:00 am to 1:00 pm||DRIVE LIFE 2023, Drive Custom Fitness, Tuscan Village|
- Why do we need a new police station?
The existing facility exhibits a range of deficiencies that impede its functionality and safety. Notably, it fails to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, lacks a sprinkler system, and cannot simultaneously accommodate interviews with multiple victims or suspects. The absence of proper segregation between criminal and non-criminal spaces, insufficient sight and sound separation for different detainee groups, and the lack of accessible restrooms pose serious limitations.
Moreover, the infrastructure is inadequate, outdated, and faulty. The building's design does not align with modern technological needs, and there are concerns related to electrical overloads and inadequate temperature control for IT equipment. The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system's inefficiency leads to temperature imbalances across the facility. Numerous deficiencies are noted in the fire alarm system, and some operational aspects, like detainee transportation and plumbing, present ongoing challenges.
Severe overcrowding compounds these issues. Essential units, such as the Investigations Unit, operate from an outdated trailer, leading to storage challenges and the repurposing of detainee cells for record storage. Evidence storage inadequacies, constrained locker space, and the lack of proper office arrangements further hinder efficient operations. Additionally, efforts to secure federal grant funding for agency improvement are hampered by the building's limitations, impeding workspace and storage solutions required for new personnel, equipment, and documentation.
Specialty units’ resort to sheds for equipment storage, while multi-functional rooms, like the roll call/briefing space, struggle to accommodate the needs of a growing employee count. Dispatch capabilities fall short, with an insufficient setup for potential simultaneous dispatchers. The facility's shortcomings extend to areas such as School Resource Officer workspaces, on-site Animal Control Services, and personnel record storage. In sum, these deficiencies collectively hinder the agency's operational effectiveness, safety, and potential for community service enhancement.
- Where will it be built?
The new facility will be built on the site of the current police station at 9 Veterans Memorial Parkway.
Other Sites Considered
The Municipal Building Advisory Committee did look at other sites including a location off of Stiles Road and Abanki Park at 71 Geremonty Drive.
- Is the existing site the best location for a new Station?
Yes. The Municipal Building Advisory Committee (MBAC), the Police Department staff, and the Town Council are unanimous in their belief the present site is the most optimal for the new facility. This consensus is driven by several compelling factors: first, there is no expenditure involved in acquiring land from the taxpayers; second, the location boasts a strategically central position; and finally, there exists ample space for the construction of the facility.
- What will happen to the existing station is a new one is built?
During the construction of the new facility, the current station will not be operational. To ensure continued service, staff will be temporarily relocated. The process will involve demolishing the existing station before constructing the new facility in its place.
- How would the Town pay for the facility?
The Town would need to finance the majority of the cost of the facility through bonds paid through taxes. Additionally, Public Safety Impact Fees will be allocated toward the bond principal.
Bonds may be issued in phases. Savings in construction costs or contributions from grants or donors would be used to reduce the amount the Town had to bond or repay the bonds early.
- Is grant money available?
At this time, there are no grants or Federal funding for brick and mortar projects, however there are grant opportunities available for certain aspects of the project, such as technology, communication, and energy saving projects. To take advantage of grant money, the full project must be funded and ready for construction. Staff is prepared to research and apply for grants once the project is funded and ready to be built. Any contributions or grants the Town secured would be used to reduce the cost of the bond amount or used to pay off the bonds early.
- The proposed facility includes a Firing Range for the Police Department. Why doesn’t the Police Department continue to use other training facilities in the state?
The proposed police range would be approximately 3,100 square feet, depending on design options. This building is a small portion of the projected cost for the whole facility. The proposed range will address the Police Department’s current training needs and support long-term training goals. The on-site range building would allow officers to move from the classroom immediately to training exercises where critical thinking and decision-making skills are honed under stressful conditions in a controlled environment. An on-site range reduces problems related to travel costs to other facilities, lack of availability at other facilities, and lack of integration into a regular training regimen. The construction of the range will provide an adequate training facility for several decades.
- Can I see the existing conditions for myself?
The Police Department is happy to schedule a tour for residents. Residents may call the station at (603) 893-1911 to arrange a tour.
The Town also has a video that shows the condition of the station posted on the Town website.
The Salem Police Department building has served the residents and visitors of Salem well over the past 56 years. However, the time is past due for a new, modern facility to meet the needs of the Town and department.
The original Police Station, the section facing Veterans Memorial Parkway, was constructed in 1966. The 14 officers who comprised the department at that time moved from Main St to the “new facility” in December 1967. As the town experienced significant growth in the 1960’s and 1970’s an addition was completed in 1978 for the 43 officers of the Salem Police Department. A triple wide used office trailer was added in 2008 to house the Investigations Units. Today, the Salem Police Department consists of 102 full and part-time employees.
The outdated facility is used 24/7, 365 days a year and is extremely overcrowded, inefficient, non-ADA compliant, and repair costs have escalated for years. The inadequate space for people, technology, equipment, and evidence affects the Salem Police Department’s day-to-day operations and advancement of services. The outdated, inadequate infrastructure affects employee safety, comfort, and expenses.
DEFICIENCIES OF THE current police station:
- Comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act
- Have a sprinkler system
- Accommodate interviewing multiple victims or suspects at the same time
- Accommodate the separation of criminal and non-criminal areas
- Have adequate sight and sound separation for juvenile and adult detainees
- Have public or accessible restrooms
- Have ventilation in male or female locker rooms
- The current building was not designed or constructed for modern technology.
- Overloaded electrical outlets throughout the building are a safety concern.
- There is inadequate space and temperature control for IT equipment.
- The HVAC system is inefficient with temperature controls improperly spaced throughout the building. This causes the system to overheat or overcool certain areas.
- There are numerous deficiencies cited in the annual fire alarm system inspection.
- The limitation of one sally port often leaves officers having to walk detainees in from the outside.
- There is consistent back up from the outdated plumbing system in the male locker room.
- The roof frequently leaks, despite only 12-year old roofing shingles.
- Soft flooring in the Investigations trailer is a safety hazard.
- The exterior of the Investigations trailer is rotting.
- The Investigations trailer's windows frequently leak during rain storms.
- The entryway from the main building to the trailer frequently leaks.
- Ice dams are often form on the main building and trailers.
- The Investigations Unit works out of a 25 year-old repurposed construction trailer.
- The lack of storage space forces the need to store vital records offsite, incurring additional costs.
- Detainee cells have been repurposed for records storage.
- The lack space for proper evidence storage requires utilization of outbuildings and conex boxes
- The interview room was repurposed for a supervisor’s office.
- The Victim Witness Advocate office serves as a back up interview room which causes a displacement of employees.
- The lack of locker space has forced the need to place lockers in the Investigation’s trailer.
- Lockers are too small to accommodate modern police uniforms and equipment.
- IT, radio, and data services are spread out throughout several locations in the building.
- The specialty units utilize sheds to store equipment.
- The roll call / briefing room also serves as the training room, meeting room, and conference room. The room only seats 17 people despite a Department with over 100 employees.
- Dispatch was only designed for one dispatcher; there are frequently up to four dispatchers on-duty.
- There are no work stations for the School Resource Officers.
- There is a lack of on-site Animal Control Service.
- Space limitations hinder grant opportunities for new equipment and/or resources.