Lehighton police have a new home
Ron Gower/TIMES NEWS Lehighton police have moved into their new station on South Third Street, which is named for the borough's long-time mayor. The former meeting room of the Lehighton Fire Department in its Station 2 building was converted due to overcrowded conditions at the municipal building, where the police were located for at least 75 years.
The Lehighton Police Department has its first new headquarters in more than 75 years.
The department moved from the municipal building on Second Street to what was the former Engine Company No. 2 building, and then Station 2, of the Lehighton Fire Department in the 100 block of South Third Street.
The move has been planned for at least two years.
Work on renovations to the former fire station began in January 2010. Initially, occupancy was scheduled for August of last year, but complications with the heating system and several plan changes resulted in the delays.
Lehighton Police Sergeant Joseph Lawrence said the new location is welcomed by his department.
"It's a huge improvement over our former station," Lawrence said. "It will serve the public to a much greater degree. It's a safer place for the public and employees."
The new station has been named after the late Wilbur A. "Cap" Bauchspies, who served as mayor in the borough for 28 years beginning in 1969. He died May 13, 2009 at the age of 81. At the time of his death, he was a member of Lehighton Borough Council.
Security cameras have been installed and visitors to the police station will find a buzzer on the outside of the brick structure. If the visit is during normal business hours, the door will be open to the vestibule. There, another buzzer will allow them to speak with the police secretary or clerical personnel.
If the visitor goes to the station during hours when the office is closed, the exterior buzzer will cause the phone to ring inside the police station.
The glass surrounding the reception area is bullet proof. There is a banklike drawer for passing papers or documents to the clerical personnel.
Inside the station, in the squad room, are four station cubicles. Three are for patrolmen and one is for criminal investigator Mike Svetik.
There is an office for the chief of police and an interview room next to the squad room. Currently the borough doesn't have a police chief. Lawrence is serving as the officer in charge until a chief is named by the borough council.
There is a processing area where fingerprinting and photography can occur, and another interview room for individuals who have been charged or are suspects in incidents.
A holding cell has stainless steel toilet facilities. The cell complies with American Disabilities Act requirements.
There is a shower room in the building, something that police didn't have in their former office.
A locked evidence room is also located inside the station.
"There are still things to tweak," said Lawrence.
A locker room is being planned for the upstairs of the building. There will also eventually be facilities for a training area, exercise workout area and a meeting location.
All the file cabinets for the police department are centrally located. At the former office, the cabinets were in three different rooms and inside a closet in the police station. Lawrence said having the file cabinets all together offers more security.
The second floor has a dropped ceiling. The panels and rails for that were donated by Wal-Mart's Mahoning store, and came from the former Wal-Mart site.
Bathroom facilities for the second floor also were given by Wal-Mart to the borough.
The installation of the ceiling was done by borough workers, who also are doing most of the second floor renovation work as "rainy day" projects, noted Lawrence.
The police sergeant said he has been with the department since 1985 and in that span, the only major improvements to the police station at the municipal building were enclosing the area where the police clerical staff is located.
A study done by Lawrence in 2004 showed the Lehighton Police Department had only 805 square feet of office space. This was substantially less than what other police departments in the area had at the time. Palmerton Police Station consisted of 3,280 square feet of office space; Jim Thorpe Police had 3,016 square feet; and Slatington police had 4,140 square feet.