Seaford Police 911 Center to be expanded and building enlarged

By Tony E. Windsor

Seaford officials have approved preliminary site plans for the renovation and upgrade to the Seaford Police Department building on Virginia Avenue. The primary focus of the upgrade is the police department's 911 Communication Center. During the Tuesday, May 27, meeting of Seaford City Council, Assistant City Manager Charles Anderson presented the plans for the police department upgrades during a public hearing. He explained that the work to be done includes taking existing office and records storage space to be used for expanding "Seaford Center," the city's 24-hour emergency 911 Communication Center. Built in 1977, the Seaford Police Department building has had no major renovation work prior to this project. The department has 27 sworn officers, nine dispatchers and two clerical workers. Anderson said the renovation project will also address installation of a sprinkler system throughout the existing building. The existing copy and records rooms and some office space will be converted to expand the communications room. He said currently Seaford Center has three dispatchers and one communications room manager. This project will expand the operation to enable four dispatchers and one communications manager to work any given shift. City Manager Dolores Slatcher said Seaford 911 center is a designated "fold down" support for the Sussex County 911 Communications (SusCom) Center. With this expansion, in the event of an emergency, SusCom personnel can come to the Seaford emergency center and operate. Slatcher also said because of the relationship with SusCom the city will get some support for the communication project from the county. Anderson said in order to replace the records, copy and office room spaces, the enhancement project will include the construction of a 2,400-square-foot building on the east side of the existing police department.

This will include a new entrance on that side of the building. Councilman Mike Vincent asked whether any consideration had been given to the building of a "salleport" for safety access to the building for officers escorting prisoners. Anderson responded that a salleport was not discussed as part of the renovation project. Slatcher commented that the issue of a salleport is not part of the project because of costs. "A salleport involves added construction costs," she said. "We have been concerned about the growing of this project. It has actually grown since we first presented the concept to the council. We don't see advantages to constructing a salleport as part of this project." Anderson agreed, saying that a salleport is typically used as an access for officers and prisoners. "When officers bring prisoners into the building through the backdoor there is a place for them to store their guns in a locker and access the prisoner area in a separate part of the building," he said. "With this renovation project there will actually be even more security. The configuration of the new expanded communications room prevents a prisoner from easily accessing that room should they somehow break free and try to run." Mayor Ed Butler asked if the backdoor to the police station will be more secure. "As it is now, a stranger could walk in that backdoor and have access," he said. Slatcher said that could only happen if someone inside the building let the stranger in, because the doors automatically lock. Anderson told Butler that the new construction project will reconfigure the backdoor and access will not be as easy as it once was. The council voted to approve the preliminary plans for the new expansion at the Seaford Police Department. Anderson said plans are still under review by the State Fire Marshal's Office, the Delaware Conservation District and DelDOT.

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