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Whitehall Township Police Department hosts tours of stations

Members of the public were invited to join Whitehall Township Police Department Lt. Gregory Bealer, Officer Matthew Christman and police aide Jenna Strauss for a tour of the old and new police facilities, held Aug. 10.

The tour started at the old facility, 3731 Lehigh St., which the department occupied from September 1993 to January of this year. Originally, the building was an ambulance corps station that had been retrofitted to accommodate the police force.

“We outgrew that building the day we moved into it,” Bealer said of the semi-vacant station.

The Lehigh Street building currently houses the radio repeater and antenna that will move to the new station eventually, as well as a few other items.

The police department had to vacate the old building for a whole host of reasons, it was mentioned.

A lack of space was the biggest reason for the transition to the new building, located at 3223 MacArthur Road. Further, it was obvious the building wasn’t meant to be a police station, Bealer added. In the old building, all nine patrol sergeants shared an office, there was only one meeting room and locker rooms were cramped, among other things.

The new building has more space and was designed with expansion in mind.

There are now three offices among the nine sergeants, with plenty of space for them all to work. The new station also features multiple conference rooms, including the public meeting room that can double as the department’s defense training room.

Both the men’s and women’s locker rooms are more spacious than before to allow all 44 sworn-in officers a place to change. Lockers that were once too small to hold a uniform on a hanger can now hold uniforms, boots and other necessities.

K-9 Mex even has his own special room and yard to hang out in while Sgt. Jeffrey Apgar works in the building.

There were also a variety of aspects that didn’t meet the Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission standards.

In the old building, there were only two holding cells, both within 3 feet of each other. The PLEAC standards state juveniles and adults must be out of eyesight and earshot of each other at all times. The new station has four adult and two juvenile holding cells in separate rooms.

Further, the holding cells in the old station had self-locking doors, while the new building does not. This prevents someone from pushing an officer inside the cell and getting stuck.

Another area that did not meet the standards was the parking lot and suspect transfer process. The parking lot outside of the old building was not fenced in. When bringing a suspect into the station, officers had to carefully juggle opening the door while ensuring the safety of themselves and the suspect on the small staircase landing. Now, the parking lot has a fence around it, and no one can get in or out without permission.

The officers, when bringing in a suspect, can also drive their cars right into a garage that will remain closed when it senses motion.

The new Whitehall Township Police Department station, at 3223 MacArthur Road, features four adult and two juvenile holding cells. The adult cells are pictured here, while the juvenile ones are through the door on the right.
PRESS PHOTOS BY CHRISTINA SANTO There were only two holding cells in the old station, 3731 Lehigh St. One of the cells can be seen here.