Vergennes needs a new police station

Letter to the editor

— Last summer, while Vergennes Opera House patrons waited in line to purchase tickets to an event in the downstairs atrium, a Vergennes police officer entered with two people in handcuffs and passed by the line of anxious people to enter the office.

The fact that Vergennes needs a new police station should come as no surprise to any city resident and the above incident shows many reasons why.

The police officer was forced to bring suspects in through a public entrance, potentially impacting public safety. The suspects’ right to privacy was impacted. Once in the police office, there was no place to separate two people in separate holding areas.

If a potential witness or complainant accompanied the officer, he or she would need to pass a line of curious people then potentially face the accused. The cramped, cluttered quarters our police force occupies is simply not acceptable for effective law enforcement.

The Vergennes City Council, with the help of consultants, City Manager Mel Hawley and Vergennes P.D. Chief George Merkel, has offered a no-frills design for a new police station that will serve the current and future requirements of our busy and dedicated police force. The new station design provides improved safety for the public and our police officers, protects the privacy of suspects and the public, fulfills requirements for separation of juvenile and adult offenders and allows for expanded record keeping and evidence processing.

There has been reasonable concern about the size and scope of the planned facility. The station planning committee (Renny Perry, Randall Ouellette, Ziggy Comeau, and Christine Collette) and the Council have listened to these concerns and feel we have a final design that balances the requirements of a modern police force with the valid apprehensions about cost.

As with any investment, people should expect reasonable value in return. In our opinion, the new station provides that value for our community.

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