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Police station work on track.

Byline: Ellie Oleson

OXFORD - Police Chief Michael J. Boss said construction of the new police station at 503 Main St. is about half-finished.

"Major construction is done, except for the roof," leaving three to four months of inside work to be completed for a late spring or early summer grand opening and open house.

The ceremonial ground-breaking was held July 8 for the $4.25 million project, which is being funded through a debt exclusion approved last year by voters at the May 7 annual town meeting and May 20 annual town election. The new, 20,000-square-foot station will replace the existing 4,000-square-foot station at 450 Main St.

In July, Michael F. O'Connor, president of M. O'Connor Contracting Inc. of West Roxbury, the project's general contractor, estimated the new station would be completed in May.

Chief Boss said ice- and snowstorms have held up installation of the roof, but "that does not stop them from working inside, so we are still basically on time."

He said he is excited not only about the expanded space local police will enjoy, but also about the state-of-the-art equipment being installed, some at little or no cost to local taxpayers.

A 911 Emergency Communication Center Development grant of $27,000 from the state Executive Office of Public Safety and Security is paying for

equipment for a new communications room. Such grants are funded by small statewide surcharges on wired and wireless telephones.

There will also be considerable savings because of

the use of gas heat rather than the current electric heat in the existing station. The new station will have sprinklers in case of fire, and be hooked up to public water and sewer. There will be a large room for training, meetings and emergency operations in case of disaster, a sergeants' room and a squad room, and a two-car garage equipped with wireless ports to automatically update the mobile data terminals in cruisers.

Also new will be

telephones in the cells to be used by prisoners jailed at the station. Chief Boss said the telephone system is not designed to help those arrested but to increase public safety.

"The newest rage is telephone systems in cells. They are virtually indestructible," Chief Boss said.

The SAFE telephones, from TIP Systems of Pasadena, Texas, show only a recessed keypad, earpiece and mouthpiece, all embedded in a 14-gauge steel box bolted to the wall, with no wires or cords showing. Only outgoing, collect calls are allowed.

Chief Boss said that problems sometimes occur when a prisoner makes a simple telephone call. To make that call, a police officer must come off the road into the station, enter the cell, handcuff the prisoner and walk him or her to a telephone, that on occasion has been used as a weapon, then stand by during the call, walk the prisoner back to the cell, remove the handcuffs and relock the cell, which all takes valuable time and can lead to an incident.

The booking process also will be far less dangerous in the new station, Chief Boss said. "In the current station, when a prisoner is brought in, he walks through a cluttered garage that contains weapons into a crowded area where there are members of the public, computers, telephone systems and other delicate equipment."

In the new station, the officer will drive a patrol car into a "sally port," a secured garage with automatic doors, remove the prisoner and walk him or her into one of five secure holding cells. As required by state law, three cells are for adult male prisoners, while the other two are "sight and sound separated" for women or child prisoners. "Liability will be minimized," Chief Boss said.

There also will be plenty of room to expand as the town continues to grow. The second story of the two-story building will be used for radio equipment, computer servers and storage until it is needed for office space.

Chief Boss said he and his fellow police officers and staff are eager to move into the new building. "We can't wait."



CUTLINE: (1) Oxford Police Chief Michael J. Boss stands inside the new station. (2) At right, the exterior of the new facility. (3) The current Oxford Police Station at 450 Main St.
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Feb 5, 2009
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