Everyone in Watertown is familiar with the new police station, a $14 million facility that will feature a state-of-the-art computer system, firing range, and fitness center. But that is only the beginning.
‘‘When we go into our new building, we want a fresh start,’’ Police Chief Ed Deveau told the Town Council Tuesday night. ‘‘Our officers work hard, and we want to reintroduce them to the community as a 21st century force.’’
Other changes on Deveau’s agenda are a new color scheme for police cruisers, fresh uniforms, and several new vehicles including an SUV that will be outfitted as a mobile command center.
The Town Council approved a request to transfer some of the department's funds into a vehicle purchasing program, which will be folded into the department's 2011 budget and used to purchase two new cruisers and one new sport utility vehicle.
The department's fleet currently consists of around a dozen marked vehicles, eight to 10 unmarked vehicles, and three SUVs, which are used for commercial vehicle enforcement and school resource officers.
‘‘This is important, because our cruisers are currently jam packed with stuff,’’ Sergeant Thomas Grady said of the mobile command center. ‘‘Outfitting a larger vehicle with some of the more specialized equipment which can be brought to the scene in extraordinary circumstances is a trend we're seeing in other towns.’’
Another trend; saddle-shoe paint jobs. Deveau said that two of his officers, Mark Lewis and Mark Leitner, spent hours of unpaid overtime researching police cruiser configurations, and found that Watertown is one of only three communities in Massachusetts that still uses a predominantly while color for its police cruisers.
‘‘Black and white cruisers are safer and more visible,’’ said Lewis. ‘‘We also advocated the installation of flotation equipment, throw ropes, and space blankets for river emergencies, and looked into in-car computer systems. We looked at everything.’’
Deveau said that some of the officer's more inexpensive recommendations, such as space blankets, had already been implemented, and that law enforcement trust funds had already been utilized to repaint four or five cruisers.
‘‘The idea with a standard color scheme for police departments is to make the public feel like the police are always present,’’ Deveau said. ‘‘When you see a cruiser from a nearby town on your streets, it should be familiar and reassuring.’’
However, Deveau said that residents would not be seeing the repainted cruisers just yet.
‘‘We're holding them back until we move into the new station,’’ Deveau said. ‘‘We've also used the fund to buy new Class A Uniforms for the officers to wear to funerals and other important occasions. It's important because it helps the officer's morale and changes the way we present ourselves to the community.’’
The town's Building Committee said that the police station is largely completed, and all that remains are installation of a few of the computer components and training of the officers. Deveau said that he hoped to return to the council with a firm date for a grand opening within the next few weeks.
Sarah Thomas can be reached at email@example.com.