Police HQ to get upgrades

Police Chief Michael Lombardo said the new solid cell doors in the holding area would be safer for officers than the current bars.
Police Chief Michael Lombardo said the new solid cell doors in the holding area would be safer for officers than the current bars.

The Trumbull Police Department could be getting a long-needed facelift, which would increase the comfort and safety of those that use the building, willingly or not.

The Town Council gave its approval to the department’s plans at its November meeting, and the project was scheduled to go out to bid this week. If all goes according to schedule, the contract could be awarded in early January, with the bulk of the work completed by July.

Police Chief Michael Lombardo said the work would mostly upgrade sections of the building that have essentially remained the same as when the building opened 40 years ago.

“This building is in use 24 hours a day, so it gets a lot more wear and tear than a normal town building,” Lombardo said.

The $1.3 million project centers on three areas: The holding cells, locker rooms and shooting range, Lombardo said. All three have aged to the point where safety is an ongoing concern, he said.

“The locker rooms are going to be gutted and renovated, and expanded,” he said.

The current locker rooms were designed when the department had far fewer than the current 81 full-time positions. Also, fewer women were working in law enforcement in the 1970s, so space for female officers to get ready for work was an afterthought.

Inside the locker rooms, many officers have shoes and shaving material on top of their lockers, and uniform shirts on hangers on the outside of the locker doors.

“Police today have so much more equipment than we used to,” Lombardo said. “It’s a lot of stuff. All the things we need to have don’t fit in the lockers.”

When complete, the new lockers would be nearly twice as wide as the current ones, with interior shelves that will allow greater organization, Lombardo said.

The holding cells, where suspects who are unable to post bond spend the night, or the weekend, before they can be brought to court, are also do for some upgrades. The metal bars that serve as the cell doors would be replaced with plexiglass, which should increase the safety of the officers and suspects, Lombardo said.

“The way it is now, suspects in the cells can reach through the bars, or spit, or throw things, so replacing the bars with glass will make it safer for the officers,” he said. In addition, the renovated cells block would be safer for suspects, who would no longer be able to use the bars to potentially harm themselves.

Finally, the shooting range, which has not been used in more than three years, would get a new ventilation system and have the accumulated lead contamination removed. The department’s officers currently use an outdoor range in Indian Ledge Park to practice their marksmanship, an arrangement that is less than ideal, Lombardo said.

“That range is outdoors, and we try to be good neighbors, but the fact is we need to shoot,” he said. “Once the indoor range is operating again, it will be much better for the officers and the Indian Ledge neighbors. If someone wants to come in and practice before work, or after work, we can do one-on-one training right here.”