Thanks to a hardly used building and a growing department, the Rockville Centre Police Department upgraded to a new facility.
The 56-officer department moved into its new headquarters at 142 Maple Ave., the former Rockville Centre Municipal Water Department building, June 1. On Saturday, the department and village board hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony and an open house for the public. The open house was led by Commissioner James Vafeades.
The department’s long history hangs from every wall throughout the new headquarters. Photographs from the 20th century line the hallways and the conference room boasts a display of the village’s very first constable: Joseph Shelly. Among other artifacts, the display includes Shelly’s handcuffs, holster and revolver.
The department’s history and growth was also noted in Mayor Francis X. Murray’s remarks before the ribbon cutting.
“As a young boy growing up in the ’50s, I remember our police station was located in the rear of village hall in a very small area,” Murray said. “Eventually, they moved to 34 Maple Ave. and stayed there for many years. With our growing need for a larger facility, we as a board reacted with very quick diligence, and the end result is what you see behind me today.”
Vafeades, who Murray said was instrumental in the construction process over the past two years, focused on the department’s future.
“This building will allow our department to grow in a better position to serve the people of Rockville Centre like they deserve, and it’s the envy of all other police departments on Long Island” Vafeades said. “I’m hoping it will house our department into the next century. Our police personnel and our village residents are very lucky to have it.”
On the inside
Saturday morning, Vafeades led dozens of residents and elected officials on. a tour of the new headquarters. Beyond the lobby, the group got an up-close look at the department’s surveillance and communications equipment, new armory, training room and drive-in booking area.
Throughout the presentation, it was clear most in attendance — especially the children — were eager to see the “jail.”
“In the old building, we had one little room and a half a desk to process prisoners,” Vafeades said, introducing the new holding area. “Now, we have three full cells, a handicap cell… there’s bathrooms in the cells.”
The cells feature a hatch to better ensure the officers’ safety. Detainees are placed into the cell cuffed, then uncuffed through the hatch on the locked door. It is also used to pass food to those in holding.
Vafeades was sure to highlight all the new facility’s safety features, from the Kevlar sheetrock used throughout construction, to the electronic door locking systems that prevents all doors from opening while officers bring people into the booking area.