Pittsfield's police station, said Sen. Edward Markey after a recent tour, brought to mind a 1930s station, so if a film studio wants to collect some state tax credits and do a remake of James Cagney's "The Public Enemy" or Edward G. Robinson's "Little Caesar," gangster flicks from 1931, they've got their "clubhouse" ('30s slang for police station). Failing that, however, Pittsfield needs a 21st century station to fight 21st century crimes.
Replacing the Allen Street station has been discussed for nearly half of its 74-year life. The department now has 117 police and civilian employees, roughly twice as many as in 1939, and there are currently 40 police vehicles compared to 14 in 1939. The garage and areas around the station are crowded and outmoded, leaving no room to expand. A new facility would provide space for the high-tech equipment used in contemporary crime-fighting that there is barely room for on Allen Street. Change is well overdue.
Happily, that process has begun with the approval of a $30,000 feasibility study for a new station. According to Police Chief Michael J. Wynn (Eagle, Sept. 9) the study would consider the merits of a new police station versus a public safety facility that also includes fire department and emergency management personnel, and explore the costs of buying land and construction.
To see the station is to realize how outdated it is, which is why Senator Markey is on board, and U.S. Representative Richard Neal has been made aware of its condition by Chief Wynn, Pittsfield Mayor Daniel Bianchi and county Sheriff Thomas Bowler. The two congressmen and Senator Elizabeth Warren must shake loose some federal money for a replacement -- renovation is out of the question. As the county seat, Pittsfield must have a police station that is a help, not a hindrance, to police officers as they address the crimes, many of them complex, that afflict Pittsfield and the Berkshires.