New Berlin Police Department Facing Criticism

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Voters in Berlin are expected to decide if police really need a new place to call home.

The town hopes to put a proposal for a new police department on the November ballot.

Police said they are currently being handcuffed by a lack of space.

Police command has been pushing town leaders, most of whom are on its side, for a new $21 million dollar headquarters built on a piece of property on Farmington Avenue which Berlin bought in 2011 for $2 million.

William Brighenti, who founded the Berlin Property Owners Association, argued that the town can't afford a new police headquarters, and police should look to clear space in their current building. He thinks one way to accomplish this is to get rid of tactical gear.

"I’m concerned that they have this military equipment, that’s taking up a lot of storage, body armor, riot helmets, swat rifles, bullet proof vests and chemical equipment," Brighenti said.

An informational session on the new police station is set for September 16 at 6 p.m. at the town hall.

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  • Paul

    “William” you must not have any friends and family that are police officers. Saying that bullet proof vest are nonessential gear is the most foolish thing I have ever heard. While we are at it let’s take away their guns and ammo to. I hope you never need the police or any of this “nonessential gear”

  • Mark

    It is not surprising that Paul took out of context the essence of Mr. Brighenti’s concerns of the current size and posture of Berlin police department. Should essential gear in Berlin, a small Town with a low crime rate, include SWAT rifles, body armor, riot helmets, and chemical equipment? Should it follow West Hartford, Newington, and Manchester and acquire AWRAPS? What next? Machine guns, grenades, rocket launchers, hum vees, and tanks? The police are adopting a military posture and defining our communities as battlegrounds and its citizens as enemies. Is it any wonder that over the past couple of weeks we have witness the following across the nation:

    In Beavercreek, Ohio, a 21 year-old man was shot and killed in Wal-mart by police for holding a Wal-Mart pellet gun. The Ohio Attorney General said the murder was unjustified.

    In Ferguson, Ohio, police incited demonstrators by wearing fatigues, shooting tear gas, riding military army vehicles, and aiming SWAT rifles and machine guns at them. A police officer also unloaded six bullets into an unarmed teenager.

    In New York, an unarmed man was choke-holded to death by a police officer.

    In Hartford, Connecticut, an unarmed teenager was zapped by a taser, and had to be hospitalized.

    The Berlin Police also want a new police station because they want bullet-proof windows and bullet-proof walls: isn’t that insulting to the Berlin citizens whom they have pledged to serve and protect? When was the last time someone drove by the Berlin police station and shot at it? Bear in mind that the tax dollars paid by these very same citizens are the source of monies for their generous compensation and benefits.

    If the police are that afraid just to arm themselves with .38 ca. or 9 mm guns, but require SWAT rifles, body armor, riot shields, and chemical equipment, in a small town with a low crime rate like Berlin, which has not had one murder in years, then perhaps they are unfit to be peace keepers. Let them join the military and fight the Taliban if they insist on being equipped like soldiers. Or if they are afraid to do so, then perhaps they should go into another profession, like the priesthood or sisterhood.

    Taxpayers are not flattered by being defined as the enemy, especially when their monies pay the police officers salaries with excellent benefits. And if the police insist on arming themselves as soldiers, then perhaps they should at least have the decency to declare war on its citizens.

    Mr. Brighenti also attacked the need for 55 police officers in a Town with a population 28% smaller than Farmington, but it has 34% more police officers than the 41 listed on Farmington’s website. Both towns have low crime rates. Berlin is one-third the national average. Are the Farmington police just smarter and better at doing their job than the Berlin police?

    It is not surprising that police fail to grasp the intent of the concerns expressed by Mr. Brighenti about the size of the police force and its equipment. In a democratic society, and not a police state, people have the freedom to express their personal views without fearing attacks by the police, who have pledged to protect and serve them, including freedom of speech.

  • Berlin Property Owners Association

    Mayor Rachel Rochette has her facts wrong about the Berlin Police Department. It was not 1972, but May, 1975, when the current facility was moved into. And there were not merely 18 employees in the Berlin PD, but 29 employees, with four employees added the following year. So the actual number of employees that this police department was designed for was at least 33 employees, not 18. Also if one extrapolates the number of police employees based on Berlin’s current population, only 45 employees, and not the 55 employees currently working in Berlin’s PD, would be in proportion to its population back in 1976.

    Mayor Rachel Rochette needs to get her facts straight in order to avoid misinforming and misleading Berlin citizens in justification for her position in support of a $24 million new police station as well as to avoid making a possibly reckless but costly decision for the taxpayers of Berlin.

    Given these facts, perhaps the Berlin Police Department is overstaffed by at least 10 employees, and the Town Council and Town Manager should consider laying off police officers in order to save taxpayers millions of dollars in building a new police station as well as millions in salaries and fringe benefits.

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