With the snip of a single ceremonial ribbon, city officials marked the opening of a new home for three groups of people who patrol downtown in uniforms.
The new home, at 900 Chapel St., is called the Downtown Community Alliance. It’s a new policing substation for New Haven and Yale cops. It’s also a new headquarters for the Town Green Special Services District’s “Downtown Ambassadors,” who pick up litter downtown and help newcomers find their way in the city.
A ceremonial ribbon-cutting Wednesday evening celebrated the opening of the new space.
New Haven cops have moved from their old policing substation, on the first floor of City Hall. The move is designed to make the substation more visible and accessible, and allow all all three groups to collaborate.
The opening featured a number of short speeches by leaders of the three agencies, each of whom thanked the others.
Mayor Toni Harp said the new center is an example of what happens when the community comes together. She said the new space will help “maintain vitality” downtown and help New Haven “keep moving forward.”
“We are a grateful police department,” said Chief Dean Esserman (at left in photo, with Town Green’s Win Davis and Yale Chief Ronnell Higgins). “Mayor, we are going to use it well.”
The substation features an exhibit of 20 “Cop of the Week” articles from the Independent. The exhibit is funded by a grant from CT Humanities (formerly known as the Connecticut Humanities Council), part of a year-long CT Humanities series called CT At Work.
Norma Rodriguez-Reyes, chair of the Independent’s board of directors, presented Chief Esserman with a binder of 100 Cop of the Week stories.
Yale and New Haven police chiefs joined the mayor and others in snipping the ribbon with an enormous pair of shears.
Sgt. Tammi Means (pictured), downtown’s top cop, called the new space a step up from the old City Hall substation, which was just a single room.
Means pointed out her new office, which faces the street, and a new work room (pictured) for cops. Means said 24 cops are assigned to the downtown policing district.
The space also includes a large room that can be used for community meetings, Means said.
A row of racks in the back can hold bike-cop bicycles.
Win Davis, head of the Town Green Special Services District, said the organization employs 17 downtown ambassadors. For at least the next five years, Town Green is paying the $30,000 annual rent for the substation. That total includes the cost of renovations to prepare the space, formerly occupied by media outlet Track180.
The new substation also features new video monitors facing the sidewalk, connected to four new surveillance cameras watching the street. Davis said the screens are set up so that passersby know that cops are “keeping an eye” on downtown, “for everyone’s safety.”