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Published: Tuesday, 5/22/2001

Montpelier police get room to breathe

BY MIKE TRESSLER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Sgt. Jim Brace moves into his office, which he says is six times the size of the one he had at the old police station. The department has nine full-time officers. Sgt. Jim Brace moves into his office, which he says is six times the size of the one he had at the old police station. The department has nine full-time officers.
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MONTPELIER - Offices in the new Montpelier police station will be big enough to hold more than one officer at a time.

That's just one reason the police department is happy to be moving this week out of small, cramped quarters and into a completely renovated building.

For years, Montpelier police have shared space with the village utilities department.

There was little room to move around, or bring in visitors. Sergeants shared an office - but only one at a time.

A former video store and sandwich shop, less than 10 years old, was remodeled to be just what they need, with four times as much room as the old station, police Chief Jeff Lehman said yesterday.

That means it must first be big enough for Chief Lehman, all 6 feet, 8 inches and 350 pounds of him.

“It's closer to the residential part of town and much more user-friendly for people who stop in with problems,” Chief Lehman said. “It has a meeting room where organizations can come in to meet.”

That's part of Chief Lehman's goal for his nine full-time officers and about 11 volunteers. He said he intends to form what he calls a partnership with the community. “We want to be part of the community. The community helps us solve crimes,” the chief said.

Access is easier for all people, including elderly, he said. The entrance to the old police department was up a half-flight of stairs over a lower level that once was the town jail.

The new station has a large squad room, two separate interview/interrogation rooms, file rooms, a secure holding room, a firearms room, an evidence area, and a separate blood-alcohol level testing room available for Ohio Highway Patrol use.

A bulletproof wall donated by the city of Bryan helps make an entrance secure.

There also is a “comfort room,” Chief Lehman said. “We have a little cubby area off the squad room where people can be comforted by victim assistance officers and where victims' families can sit.”

The move will benefit the police department and other village staff people too, village Administrator John Bitler said.

“Everybody in the village is looking forward to the move,” he said. “The police department has been grossly overcrowded. Now they have room to work plus room for the special things police need.”

Town officials had discussed constructing a 4,000-square-foot police building, but renovating the vacant building at about the same cost resulted in 4,500 square feet, he said.

The police will have more room, and the mayor, William Shatzer, can get back into an office in the town building, Mr. Bitler said.



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