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Design Flaw Sets Back Police Operations

By Caitlyn Ross

Central Connecticut State University’s new police department has completed the move into a new $5.7 million public safety complex last fall despite a major design flaw interrupting radio transmissions.

The station’s radio signals were originally obstructed by steel studs within the walls of the building, according to a review of state construction documents.

The new police station opened in July of 2013 and is equipped with a 400-plus on-campus camera monitoring dispatch center. To strengthen radio signals between the control center and on-campus officers, a new antenna was installed on the roof in October 2013.

According to records, CCSU installed the $7,400 antennae soon after discovering the problem, completing the new station on the corner of Wells and East streets.

The steel wall studs created something similar to the static cell phone users experience in a dead zone, said Police Sgt. Gerald Erwin. In order to communicate with the dispatch center, officers on campus patrol wear Motorola belt radios.

“So if I called an officer from in here to out there about whatever, it was very hard to hear,” said Erwin. “I could hear them, but it would be very static-y.”

Richard Bachoo, CCSU’s chief administrative officer, calls the steel wall stud flaw more cosmetic than substantial. Though police officials did acknowledge that the glitch could have hindered the effectiveness of police work.

“You just had to listen really hard [to hear officers talking],” said Erwin. “The connection was broken up … very static-y.”

Regardless of the steel stud set-back, the growing, full-service department feels that the new 12,500 square foot building meets their needs.

“We are now a fully-operational police station with the ability to deal with any situation,” said Erwin.

The new station replaces the former station off Paul Manafort Drive that the department had occupied since 1982. The old station, located in a converted single-family house, was falling apart and posed health hazards that included rodents.

“The old building was not up to date and could no longer fit our needs as a growing department,” said Erwin. “The building was a gift.”

The modernized complex includes two overnight holding cells, a separate prisoner-processing area and a basement level for holding state issued weapons and body suits. The station is home base for 24 certified municipal police officers and several civilian workers.

According to Erwin, the station’s 400-plus on-campus cameras are used to monitor high-priority areas such as the Bursar’s Office, the Student Center and dormitory elevators.

Used mainly for evidence, the footage must be kept for 30 days according to CCSU’s Record Retention policy.

“There are cameras all over,” Erwin says. “Due to how we do business, I can’t disclose all of their positions.”