Hampden Police Department: 'New headquarters a must' - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

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Hampden Police Department: 'New headquarters a must'

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For nearly 50 years, the Hampden Police Department has struggled to work in its confined headquarters in town hall.

Now they said the small location is keeping them from doing their job.

The quiet quintessential town sits in the shadow of Minnechaug Mountain.

Protecting the people are six full-time officers, three sergeants and a chief of police.

With a population hovering around 5,000 residents, it doesn't necessarily require a large police department.

But this small force has quickly outgrown itself.

The department sits in a 900 square foot space in the basement of town hall.

"We're working in the same space that the police department has been in since 1968. And the configuration doesn't allow us to expand at all," said Hampden Police Chief Jeff Farnsworth.  

Officers are required to maneuver through tight spaces when conducting their work.

"When you finger print someone you hope they're relatively compliant because there's no room," said Farnsworth.

The unisex locker room is also located inside the break room.

"We don't even have a locker for each officer. They're sharing lockers," explained Farnsworth.

And the refrigerator in that break room acts not only as a place for the officers' lunches, but it's also storage for evidence that needs to be kept cool, including rape kits.

The emergency servers used to keep in contact with the state and FBI are unconventionally kept inside the department's working bathroom.

Suspects and victims are forced to sit just feet apart due to the small spacing.

Farnsworth said this atmosphere raises safety concerns for anyone who comes to the department.

"That's a concern for anyone who comes to see us, for our officers and for any detainees who come in," said Farnsworth.  

And that's why he hopes the town will approve a new $2.9 million, 6,000 square foot facility.

"We have used every inch of space available to us as effective as we could, but we've finally hit the point where we just can't do it anymore."

The new station headquarters would be built on town-owned land on Allen Street next to the senior center.

Farnsworth said it is a necessity to allow the department to grow and better serve the public.

"We'll have all the modern amenities that are needed in a police station."

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