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Those arrested are processed while sitting on the bench in the booking area, which is a safety concern. (Melissa Proulx/Correspondent)

Hooksett warrant article proposes renovations to police department

HOOKSETT — Residents will be asked to consider upgrades and renovations to the town’s police department on this year’s town meeting ballot.

The first phase of the project would be to move the dispatch center to the front of the building.

Police Chief Janet Bouchard said this would allow those coming in to speak with an officer to do so faster.

“There’s that kind of customer service aspect of this,” she said.

Upgrades would also be made to the booking area. Currently, there isn’t a secure temporary holding area for arrested individuals brought in to be processed, which is a safety concern, said Bouchard.

Those going through the booking process sit on a bench on the other side of a counter from the officers.

Two new holding cells, as well as a secure counter area, would be added to the space to increase safety, Bouchard said.

“This is the most important part of the project for me,” Bouchard said.

Renovations would also be made to the storage, armory and locker rooms.

The current dispatch area, for example, would be turned into a new men’s locker room for patrol officers. The one upstairs would then be used solely for detectives and other command staff. The women’s locker room would also be upgraded as well.

The patrol room would be expanded to solve that additional space issue.

“We tried to keep it needs and not wants,” Bouchard said.

A reception window would be added to the fire department’s side of the lobby.

All of the work would be done within the current footprint of the building, meaning no additions will need to be made to the 15 Legends Drive structure.

The building is about 20 years old and hasn’t seen any significant upgrades since it was built, Bouchard said.

If approved, the project would go out to bid shortly after the vote.

From there, the intent is to have everyone signed on and ready to start the project sometime after July 1, when the funding would become available.

In all, construction should last about four or five months, Bouchard said. There shouldn’t be huge disturbances in the daily operations of the police station, though a booking room at another location within the building may be used during the construction. The dispatch center may be temporarily relocated as well.

The town is looking to have $762,500 approved for the project. If approved, the majority of the money — $752,500 — would come from a bond and $10,000 would be raised through taxation to cover the issuance of the bond and the first year’s payments.

On Dec. 13, Bouchard gave a full presentation to the Town Council about the upgrades on Dec. 13.

Residents will also have the opportunity to weigh in on the proposal at the deliberative session on Saturday at the David R. Cawley Middle School starting at 9 a.m.

The full warrant article, as well as the others and the proposed budgets can be found on the town’s website.

The warrant article will be voted on at town meeting on March 13.

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