Calling the building's current conditions a day-to-day safety concern for officers, the head of the North Branford Police union is urging town officials to find a way to fund improvements to the department's headquarters on Forest Road — and soon.
"We've got a monumental problem here," Anthony DeLuise, a patrol officer and president of the NBPD officers' union, told the Board of Police Commission at their regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday night. "I don't know if I am conveying here to you how important it is."
"If you don't make this building bigger and better, it won't be safe... is it going to take a tragedy," he said.
The building's poor condition returned to the forefront after Interim Town Manager Bonnie Therrien publicly stated during a special Town Council meeting last month that the department's headquarters "is a dump."
'We Had to Walk Through Feces'
As he addressed the commission on Tuesday, DeLuise noted that earlier this year the building's septic system failed, resulting in an overflow inside the building.
"We had to wake through feces to get our guns and bullet proof vests... that is unconscionable," he said. "No employee should have to do that."
DeLuise added that union officials had to contact the East Shore District Health Department to eventually get the problem resolved.
"We've already gone to the health department with this building so we don't have to walk through feces," he said, adding that the union's next step could be contacting the federal Ocuppational Health & Safety Administration.
"OHSA could come in here and say, 'You have to get out of this building, it's uninhabitable," DeLuise said.
'No More Important Issue'
In addition to septic issues, the union head also said the department's 911 room takes on water during heavy rains storms.
"I don't think that there is any more important issue," DeLuise said of the need of an addition and other improvements to the headquarters. "There should be no greater priority."
He added the officers themselves also wanted to part of any effort to get town officials to take action on the improvements.
"I ask that union leadership be part of this process with you to help," DeLouise said to the commissioners. "We need to do this in a unified front."
Responding to the officer's comments, police commission members vowed they would "push harder than ever" — joining together with the officers — to get the town council to take action on improvements.
"We can hopefully get through to the powers that be that something needs to be done," Dave Palumbo, the commission's vice chairman, said.
But Palumbo reminded DeLuise that it is town council members who ultimately hold the purse strings, and therefore, the switch to greenlighting any expansion project or other improvements to headquarters.
"I can't promise what is going to happen, but I can promise due diligence," he told DeLuise.