I know I could never be a police officer. Much like the military, they have to endure long hours of tedium, but ever watchful and then somehow, cool and collected; be ready to swing into action at a moment’s notice. Yet never knowing what that action could be…a medical crisis, a terrible accident or it could be responding to a crime scene.
I’d be a nervous wreck.
and yet, we as citizens just take for granted that warm blanket of security – where else can you walk outside late at night and feel safe and not afraid and of course, the VERY BAD habit of leaving our homes unlocked in Newburyport.
We all too often take that invisible presence for granted.
So, just before Yankee Homecoming occurred, the Police Station had an open house. This was a chance to see the view from the inside out! A great opportunity for citizens to see that ‘invisible presence’ without necessarily enjoying some of the fine facilities that are provided therein! And a great learning experience for children of all ages.
Then we received “gifts” at the entrance – bike helmets were provided for tour participants and the children were given a packet of entertaining instructional material. Then we were lead from the garage into two rooms that were outfitted with dive equipment. I immediately thought of that poor man over in Salisbury who had drowned off his boat and could picture the officers dredging the river and searching for his body.
We were then led up into the halls of justice as we approached the front of the building. First thing I noticed was how meticulously clean were the halls and rooms every where I looked in the building. I was wondering if that was what they did during their free time – scrubbing away on all those hard surfaces but I couldn’t picture them on their hands and knees in their uniforms. Just didn’t fit.
We were then escorted into the dispatcher’s room. All I’ve ever seen as I passed on to the police conference room over the years was a highly-reflective glass with barely a view of the attending officer.
Now, viewing inside, consoles, with video screens highlighting parts of the inside the building but more interestingly, very busy sections of the city’s downtown. The dispatcher showed how controls could be touched to highlight a particular area like Inn Street or Market Street. There were GPS maps and a whole myriad of communications.
It was nice to know the officers are keeping a careful eye on the streets but also a little alarming – who is actually looking at me downtown if I’m acting a little goofy! (or pulling out at a stop sign without actually stopping!)
Then of course, we were then escorted into the area none of us want to see voluntarily: the booking room. First, the officers escort the prisoner into a separate room where they are handcuffed to a bar with the officer safely on the other side of the glass. I’m picturing Rambo getting hosed down in there (Didn’t see any fire hose) and the officer safely apart – and again, the area where the officer stands or the prisoner sits were remarkably clean. And the place where illegal drugs were dropped down safely away from contamination and theft.
We were then taken to the holding cells. All of a sudden, instead of some old dirty holding area filled with graffiti, came this 21st century repository! Clean again and I mean, not just clean for us as visitors but maintained practically sterile– but not meant to be inviting either. A couple of small children went in and the door closed – I heard a lot of giggling. Perhaps at their age, they don’t understand the significance of such incarceration. Too much watching television and not living life…I doubt they’ll be giggling if they find themselves in here later in life! (parents forbid)
We were then taken past the interrogation room where prisoners are questioned. Speaking of television, just like in real life. An isolated, blocked off area with a second room where a detached observer could watch.
Then we ended up at the end of the tour at the break room which was well-equipped. Though I noticed that little danger is posed by too many donuts and junk food! Right beyond the area we were standing in was a room chocked full of exercise equipment.
There will be no excuse for chubby cops in Newburyport!
Overall, it was very re-assuring that the police department is very professional in their facility and maintaining their good rapport inside the building and outside in the community.