Police Concerned About Lack Of Secure Parking In Hartford's New Public Safety Complex
By JENNA CARLESSO
January 25, 2013
HARTFORD —— The city's police department this week completed its move to the new public safety complex on High Street. But some officers already are raising concerns about a lack of secure parking at the $77 million facility.
Officers, sergeants, detectives and other non-command staff members of the department have been asked to park their personal vehicles in a gravel lot across the street from the public safety complex, police said. The lot has a fence around it, but the gates are not locked.
Police Union President Richard Holton said some officers are concerned about the visibility of their personal vehicles. At the former police station on Jennings Road, officers parked in a lot behind the building, set back from the road and largely out of the public view.
"Before, people parked their cars behind the building and no one saw what kind of car you drove," Holton said. "If someone has a bone to pick with an officer, they can see what their personal car looks like and follow them home. In the end, it puts them out in the public's eye. It's really not a good place to put employees in."
Some officers are also worried about their personal cars being vandalized, Holton said. All police cruisers and other city vehicles are parked in a secure garage adjacent to the public safety complex. The police department's command staff — many of whom have take-home privileges with their cruisers — and internal affairs sergeants also park in the garage.
Holton said he has expressed the concerns of the police union to department administrators.
"We recognize that it's an issue," Lt. Brian Foley, a spokesman for the police department, said. "We were given this building and the parking situation and we're going to do the best we can. We're working with city hall and the union to resolve the matter as quickly as possible for our officers."
Saundra Kee Borges, Hartford's interim chief operating officer, said the city is in the process of ensuring the gravel lot is well-lit and monitored by cameras. She noted that the public safety complex already has many cameras installed in and around the facility, and that there's an around-the-clock police presence in the area.
"We're taking steps to make sure the employees and their vehicles are safe," she said.
The city also is working to lease two additional parking lots near the complex — one on High Street and another on Ann Uccello Street — to address a shortage of parking spaces, Kee Borges said. Further down the road, she said, officials may look to build another parking garage for public safety employees. She did not have a cost estimate for leasing the lots.
"Unfortunately when plans [for the complex] were finalized, they really didn't accommodate all of the parking needs," Kee Borges said. "We're addressing the shortfalls by looking at surrounding properties to make sure everyone has a parking spot."
The additional lots leased by the city also will be monitored by cameras, she said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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