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Chief Farnsworth: New police facility sorely needed

Date: 11/5/2012

By Chris Maza

HAMPDEN — Hampden Police Chief Jeff Farnsworth is pleased that the town has taken its first step toward the construction of a new police station.

Residents voted at a Special Town Meeting in favor of a conducting a feasibility study for a new facility for the department, which employs eight full-time officers — not including the chief — four dispatchers and 11 reserve officers.

Currently, the department is headquartered in the basement of the Hampden Town Hall underneath the Hampden Free Public Library in a space that measures roughly 800 square feet.

"Obviously we need more space. We don't have any storage space or interview rooms," he said.

The study, Farnsworth explained, would help the town determine exactly what kind of facility would be needed with an eye on ensuring that whatever is built would be able to conform to the department's developing needs.

"We want to make sure that if something is built, we wouldn't be coming back to the town looking for money to expand it five years down the road," he said, adding that he hoped the study would be completed by next spring.

Farnsworth said that the move to a new facility would be long overdue.

"This space was too small when I first got here 20 years ago," he said. "This is where the police station has been located for more than 50 years and over that time, there is just a natural progression. The size of the community increases and so do the needs of the department."

Among the departmental needs that have developed over the years is a need for computer space.

"Obviously when this space was built, there was no need because there were no computers," Farnsworth said. "But now we have computers and records that share a room with a bathroom."

The department also is not compliant with current Americans with Disabilities Act regulations.

"If you were in a wheelchair and needed to come see us, you really couldn't do it right now," Farnsworth said.

The move to a new facility would benefit other departments within Town Hall, he added.

"The rest of Town Hall needs more space as well. It's not just us. It's a lot of the departments," he said. "The logical step would be to move us out and use our space to help the other departments with their space issues."