With the move of the Zone Three Police Station from 1725 Mary Street on the South Side Flats (where it has been housed since 1962) to Warrington and Arlington avenues in Allentown finalized this week (the grand opening is set for Friday, May 1st @ 11 a.m.) I'm hoping to alleviate any concerns that this move will have a negative affect on the quality of policing we will experience.
Living across the street from the former Mary Street location, as a young eight year old boy, I remember watching as that station was built. It's impossible not to have fond memories and an attachment and "comfort level" to it remaining there.
But therein lays the reason a new building has become so necessary: the former Mary Street location is now 47 years old and has long since ceased to serve the needs of our Zone Three police. Asbestos and lead throughout, inadequate locker room and office space, mold and an outdated ventilation system causes concern for unsafe working conditions for our Zone Three officers.
The new Zone Three Station offers amenities to our officers that have been sorely lacking: Locker rooms for both male and female officers, a fully equipped gymnasium, state of the art communications and a community center to house the monthly Zone Three Public Safety meetings, to which all are invited to attend.
And while having a proper space for our offices to work from is important, "bricks and mortar" do not drive sound public safety policy. Sound public safety policy is based on effective management. A well trained, equipped, managed and deployed police force is what serves us, the public, appropriately. If "bricks and mortar" were the driving force, with 88 neighborhoods and six police stations, we would either be undeserving 82 of our neighborhoods or needing to build an additional 82 police stations. We would all agree that's simply not fiscally possible.
But what is possible with the new technologies of today, is the ability to create "sub-stations" within every police vehicle. Each police vehicle today is equipped with Mobile Data Terminals and "tuff-book" laptop computers, giving our offices the ability to remain on the streets, within their sectors, actively policing, with the ability to communicate at a moments notice and file reports while in the field.
Another positive change is to the geography of our zone. As of January 1, 2009 the neighborhoods of Brookline, Beechview and Overbrook are being policed by the West End Zone Six Station, significantly reducing the physical area patrolled by Zone Three and an increase in police presence within Zone Three neighborhoods.
And so under the professional leadership of Zone Commander Catherine McNeilly, the new amenities offered to our police officers, use of new technologies allowing our officers to remain in the field and out of the station and an overall reduction in the size of our zone, my promise to you is that all Zone Three neighborhoods will continue to experience equitable and effective police coverage regardless of where our Zone Three Station may be housed.
Bruce A. Kraus
Councilman, District Three