The mayor wants to reopen substations in housing projects such as Wilson Park on Memorial Drive. The Wilson substation was 'incredibly successful,' said police Lt. Kate O'Brien.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Mayor Daniel Bianchi is exploring ways to bring police substations back to four public housing projects.
Police used to have either an apartment or a room in Francis Plaza, Wilson Park Apartments, Dower Square and Christopher Arms as resource centers. They weren't staffed full time but an officers would meet with residents, provide information and bring the community together to organize picnics and carnivals.
"It was more of a resource center and a place where a beat officer could meet with people," Police Lt. Kate O'Brien said Monday at the Police Advisory Committee. "The Wilson Project was incredibly successful. It was building the neighborhood up."
The biggest benefit was that it brought residents together when they wouldn't interact otherwise and empowered them to do more together. It also opened lines of communication with both neighbors and officers to address issues facing the residents.
"We're not telling people to do anything. They are a part of it," O'Brien said.
But about 15 years ago, the officer who ran the substation was reassigned and grant money ran dry.
Bianchi has already begun conversations with the committee, sheriff's department, Police Department, district attorney's office and the Housing Authority to research options. Each one of those agencies is expected to weigh in and the mayor's office will put together a plan.
"We found them pretty effective," Bianchi said on Tuesday of the past substations. "It's good when you can have more of a police presence."
The city could seek additional funding through the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development or absorb it in the city budget, Bianchi said.
"This could be a good, effective way to bring policing more into the community but also have a greater civic involvement," he said. "It can go from very little cost to a lot more expensive depending on how you design them."