On Jan. 11, Milford Archie Campbell announced the formation of a Police Facility Citizens Advisory Committee. This committee will be appointed should voters approve the borrowing of up to $20 million to build a new police station and will be responsible for approving the design of the new station as well as provide oversight and direction. Plans for the new station will be approved by the committee who will then present them to City Council for final approval.
“The committee will consist of seven members of the community,” Mayor Campbell said. “I would like to have about seven people from around the community to sit down with me and Chief Brown. I would also like Lou [Vitola, Finance Director] to serve on this committee as well.”
Documents included in the council agenda indicated that the objective of the committee is to bring a project to council that will have the lowest cost possible while also meeting the needs of the community today and at least 25 years into the future. Although the committee will be required to meet monthly, it is possible they will need to meet more often. The documents also explained that members of the community would consist of one person from each ward in the city.
The City of Milford will hold a referendum on Jan. 26, asking the public to approve up to $20 million in bonds for the construction of the new police station. Whitfield explained that the city does not anticipate borrowing the full $20 million. They anticipate the cost of the building will be between $12.5 and $17.5 million.
A referendum was originally scheduled for April 2020 but was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In late Feb. 2020, public workshops were held to explain why the department needed a new building. Chief Kenneth Brown explained that they did look at the old Armory building and the cost estimates found that it would cost as much to retrofit the old building as it would to build a new one. The location of the Armory was also not ideal and would present the same problems as the current station. A location in the industrial park would not be suitable as it would require police crossing a busy highway for every response.
The current building was never handicap accessible, although there have been alterations to allow for handicap access. However, to get to the lower levels, there are no elevators. The exercise and training rooms were turned into locker rooms as the current building was designed for only 18 officers and the department now has more than 30.
“Our patrol officers have to park in the parking lot and then remove prisoners from their cars and walk them to the building,” Chief Brown explained at a public workshop in February. “This is a safety issue if the prisoner escapes and runs into to traffic or to the river. It is also inappropriate to be walking handcuffed prisoners across the parking lot in front of the public whoa re going by or could be sitting in visitor parking lots. There is only one interrogation room which means officers must often interview victims in the lobby where others can hear the conversation. Criminals and their alleged victims must often sit in the lobby together which can lead to additional issues.”
Voting will take place on Jan. 26 from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. in the Public Works facility at 180 Vickers Drive in the Milford Business Park off Airport Road. Absentee ballots must be mailed and received or deposited in the black mailbox located at the front door of City Hall by Jan. 26 to be counted. Anyone who wants an absentee ballot must call the City Clerk at 302-422-1111, extension 1303. Only residents who registered to vote with the City of Milford by Dec. 28, 2020, are eligible to vote in the referendum.