Saturday February 16, 2013

Chief Wrinn discusses need for facility upgrades

Editor of the Reformer:

I am writing today in response to a letter to the editor that was published on Feb. 15 ("Brattleboro can’t afford bond").

In the letter, the writer wondered about polling the employees of the Brattleboro Police Department and the Brattleboro Fire Department to see if they themselves agreed with the proposed expansions and upgrades of buildings. The writer then stated, "My guess is that they would agree with Police Chief Gene Wrinn who said that he thought the money would be better spent raising salaries and recruiting new members to those service teams."

On Thursday afternoon, a woman presented herself at the Brattleboro Police Department questioning the need for these projects during these challenging economic times. In an attempt to provide her with the most information possible, I personally escorted her on a tour of the department, pointing out the many problem areas of the facility. During the tour, I pointed out the hazards where police cruisers park and where employees and prisoners enter the building. I explained the issue we have with snow and ice falling of the roof and the potential for injuries. The tour then moved into the cell area where officers have to manage a person in handcuffs down a set of steep, narrow steps and many times are dealing with a person who is impaired and/or combative. The reasoning in reducing the number of cells from five to three was explained and then we moved to the locker room.

During this portion of the tour, I explained that the department currently has three female police officers and more than one dozen other female employees. We do not have adequate areas to provide the privacy that the female employees are entitled to. We encourage physical fitness and have minimum fitness standards that employees must adhere to. Employees are encouraged to use the gym before or after shift to maintain those standards. I pointed out some areas of the walls in the locker room where a black substance is growing and explained that even with dehumidifiers constantly running, the substance continues to grow. I pointed out to woman that when applicants apply for employment with the police department, they are given a fitness test in the department’s gym/locker room.

Here is where I believe the writer misunderstood the information she was provided. I explained to her that during these challenging economic times, it is difficult to recruit new officers when they are brought through a facility in the condition of ours and asked to work in these challenging conditions. Other departments offer the same or higher wages with newer facilities. The woman asked about the officer’s pay scale and I explained that officers with the Brattleboro Police Department are currently behind many other departments in the state of similar size.

To be perfectly clear, the current police facility is in desperate need of the proposed addition and renovations. The current staff for years has worked in challenging conditions and maintained a professional and high level of moral. The Police/Fire facilities have been on the radar for many years and have been the topic of numerous studies, each pointing to the need.

Eugene Wrinn,

Chief of Police, Brattleboro Police Department, Feb. 15

A question ...

Editor of the Reformer:

What’s the difference between Obama’s kill list and a fatwa?

Not all fatwas are assassination orders.

Jacqueline Brook,

Putney, Feb. 9

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Editor’s Note: With Town Meeting fast-approaching (March 5), we are aware that many letters in support of a candidate or from candidates will be sent to us. We will run as many as space allows before the election. Please note that support letters will not run after the March 2-3 Weekend Reformer publishes.