State police, paramedics move to new U.S. 13 home

By Lynn R. Parks

Lance Willey never thought he would see this day. A 20-year veteran of the Delaware State Police, he was afraid that Troop 5, based in Bridgeville, would forever be headquartered in its small barracks on U.S. 13 north of town. But on Sept. 30, the troop moved into its new, $3 million quarters, in the former state visitors center on U.S. 13 south of town. Sgt. Willey, the staff supervisor, couldn't be happier. "It's a breath of fresh air to come into this building," he said. "This is a great place to work." The 10,000-square foot Adams-Ewing Public Safety Complex, named for state Sen. Thurman Adams and state Rep. Ben Ewing, is more than two times the size of the troop's former barracks, said the troop's commander, Capt. Glenn Dixon. In addition, it has four holding cells, each with a toilet, and separate rooms in which to interview suspects. The old barracks had none of that. Suspects were handcuffed to benches and interviewed at officers' desks. If the suspects had to use the bathroom, they were escorted outside to rest rooms that were accessed from an exterior hall. "It was not a good situation," said Dixon. The new barracks also has a staff kitchen, something the old barracks did not have. At the old barracks, officers sat at a large table to eat their meals, Willey said; suspects who were brought into the barracks passed right by the table. The troop is home to 34 patrol officers and three administrative officers. Offices for Dixon and the troop's two lieutenants are at the front of the building, in the original visitors center. The rest of the headquarters is in new construction, added to the back of the building. Visitors to the barracks enter through a new entrance on the south side off the building.

The new barracks has a community room, in which the troop can host crime watch meetings and meetings to inform communities of progress in solving particular crimes. There is also a room for a victim's service specialist, who helps victims of crime with whatever they may need. The troop's four school resource officers, in the Woodbridge, Seaford, Laurel and Delmar school districts, are headquartered in the barracks, as is a child safety seat inspector, Vicky Love, who provides free inspections of child safety seats and their installation. The program is provided by the Delaware Office of Highway Safety. Dixon said that the barracks also has room for the troop to grow. He would like to see a detective or two based at the barracks; all Sussex County detectives are now based at Troop 4 in Georgetown. Behind the brick barracks is a metal building that will house the Sussex County Paramedics Station 107, currently in Blades. According to spokesman Tim Cooper, eight paramedics will be based at the building, which is set to open by Monday. The former police barracks, built in 1937, is currently vacant. The state has given it to the Woodbridge School District, which plans to use it for its administrative offices. The district's administrative offices are currently housed in trailers parked behind the elementary school in Greenwood. Assistant superintendent Heath Chasanov said that a referendum passed earlier this year gave the district $338,000 to renovate the building. He expects bids for the work to go out soon. "Ideally, we will be in there by summer," he said. The school district will renovate the building to provide room for five administrators and their support staff. In all, 15 people will be housed in the building.

For your information: A ribbon cutting will be held at the new Troop 5 barracks on U.S. 13 south of Bridgeville Monday, Oct. 17, at 1 p.m. Gov. Ruth Ann Minner is expected to attend, as well as area state legislators. The ceremony is open to the public.

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