New Public Safety Complex Named For Former Police Chief

Oct 6, 2017

Credit WAMC

The police department in Springfield, Massachusetts is planning to move some of its operations into a newly renovated former U.S. Army Reserve center next year.  A dedication ceremony for the new facility was held today.

Officials dedicated the Paul J. Fenton Public Safety Annex.  It is named for the long time Springfield police chief who died in 2007.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said Fenton was fiercely dedicated to his family, his Irish heritage, and the police department he served for 42 years.

" He served 15 years as chief and really took us into the modern era of policing, so when this came about that we would expand our facility it was a no-brainer to name it for Chief Fenton," said Sarno.

The audience of about 100 people for Friday’s ceremony included Fenton’s three sons, other family members, friends, and retired police officers.

Paul Fenton Jr. spoke for the family. He said they are grateful for the recognition.

" He was electric, he was alive, he was committed, and he was passionate. That is what he has passed on to all of us," said Fenton about his father.

The new public safety complex is located at a former Army Reserve center in east Springfield that closed in 2005.   In 2015, it was turned over to the city free of charge, with a deed restriction that it be used only for law enforcement purposes.

Congressman Richard Neal helped facilitate the transfer of the property to the city. Federal funds were used to pay for the extensive renovations to the 15,000-square foot building and surrounding grounds.  The project was budgeted at $11.3 million.

" It is an important repurposing of this facility," said Neal. " It is an example of the professionaliztion that occurs with policing across western Massachusetts."

The police academy, tactical response unit, property division and youth services will occupy the building.

Police Commissioner John Barbieri said the academy, which has moved from one temporary location to the other for the last 20 years, will now have a permanent home with state-of-the-art facilities.

The new public safety annex fills another critical need the police department has for long term evidence storage.

Barbieri said he hopes to begin using the new annex before the end of April.