Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Vote YES: Smyrna (DE) Police Building Referendum

Smyrna Police Department
On April 30, 2012 residents of Smyrna, DE have the opportunity to vote for an upgrade to the building utilized by the Smyrna Police Department.  This issue has been added to the referendum of the 2012 Smyrna Town Council Election.  Elections will be held from 1pm-8pm at Citizens' Hose Company.  The referendum does not guarantee that a new police department will be built, but it will show the council what the residents of Smyrna would like to happen.

There is a need for a new police department building.  From the most basic perspective, the town of Smyrna has grown significantly in the past several years.  This creates a larger area the officers must patrol, which has increased the number of officers and vehicles required to keep Smyrna safe.  These increases have made the police officers outgrow their own department.  Currently several officers are actually utilizing offices located in the public works building.  Having officers need to travel back and forth between buildings in order to do simple tasks is a hindering on their ability to efficiently do their jobs and aid the citizens of the community.

Furthermore, due to the age of the current police department building, it does not meet the requirements for accreditation.  Accreditation of the police department makes them eligible for federal grant funding.  Although this might not seem important, federal grant funding significantly decreases funding required by the community for the department.  Through various federal agencies funding can be acquired to cover the costs of new police cruisers, technology equipment (such as their recently awarded Panasonic Toughbook), training, and various other items that assist in the policing abilities of the department.

Chief Wil Bordley
Although the department building is covered under a grandfather clause with the Department of Justice, the holding cells in the current building do not meet current day compliance standards.  The minimal amount of holding facilities in the current building do not allow for the appropriate division of men, women, and juveniles.  When there is an influx of suspects, the officers are sometimes forced to use the processing and interview areas as holding cells.

Proposed Police Department
These are all issues that would be fully addressed in the construction of a new police building.  The new proposed 26,900 square foot facility would be on the existing site of the current police department on Glenwood Avenue but would expand to the old Public Works building, which would be demolished. The new facility, if approved, will include a first floor, sally port, renovation of the existing building, and a basement.  The new building would also be prepared to deal with continued increased growth of the town of Smyrna.

The cost of the new police department is estimated to be up to $4.9 million.  However, that estimate is a worst-case scenario, and it is expected to be built for significantly less. In terms of taxes, taxes could go up 4.5 cents per $100 of assessed value.  Although no resident likes to hear that a tax increase will occur, for the majority of homeowners in the town of Smyrna, that increase equates to only $4-$8/month.

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