New Bedford Police Union Decries ‘Sub-Par’ Conditions at Training Academy
The roof leaks. Ceiling tiles are missing. The flooring is worn and torn. Such are the conditions at the New Bedford Police Training Academy at the old New Bedford Institute of Technology (NBIT) building at 1204 Purchase Street in New Bedford.
After giving me a tour of the facility, New Bedford Police Union President Chris Cotter called the conditions "sub-par."
"These classrooms are in a condition where most people wouldn't allow their pets to walk," Cotter said.
New Bedford Institute of Technology merged with Fall River's Bradford Durfee College of Technology (BCDT) through an act of the Massachusetts Legislature in 1960 to form Southeastern Massachusetts Technology Institute (SMTI). SMTI later morphed into Southeastern Massachusetts University (SMU) and eventually UMass Dartmouth, now located in Dartmouth.
It's an interesting history, and I highlight it only to give you a sense of how old the Purchase Street training facility is.
The training academy is used for classroom space where hands-on CPR and first aid training are taught, among other things. There is also a computer lab there. The building houses the New Bedford Fire Prevention offices as well.
Cotter said the union has been asking for money for years for upgrades to the training academy but said the Mitchell Administration insists the situation is temporary as it plans to demolish the building.
Cotter said the administration's refusal to upgrade the facility is "a continuous slap in the face to the men and women of the New Bedford Police Department who are continually treated as if they don't matter."
"The Zeiterion Theater gets a $5 million boost of funding when those who worked day in and day out during the COVID crisis get to sit for five days (for annual training) in what is most likely an asbestos-filled environment," Cotter said.
In a follow-up to this article, New Bedford Public Information Officer Michael Lawrence stated that "1204 Purchase Street is slated for demolition, potentially for a parking facility to serve the neighborhood and the growing Quest Center across the street." He said there was "not yet a specific date or immediate timetable for demolition of 1204 Purchase Street."