Weekly Feature

2018-07-11 / Local News

Town looking to turn former Harley dealership into police facility

by ANNA DEROSA Associate Editor

The Town of Amherst wants to turn the former 50,000-square-foot Harley-Davidson dealership building, located at 4220 Bailey Ave., into a police training facility. The project was discussed during Monday’s Town Board work session.

A conversation about the project began between Supervisor Brian Kulpa and Police Chief John Askey, which highlighted items regarding police being able to continue to provide safety and security for all areas of town.

“The police really needed a place or opportunity to be able to practice strategically with all their force and non-force methods,” Kulpa said at the work session.

When thinking about the possibility of an outdoor or indoor facility, Kulpa also noted that the small pistol range at police headquarters was less than sufficient.

Kulpa noted that the building on Bailey Avenue was looked at with concern in terms of economic development as well.

Askey said a purpose of the facility would be to build relationships within the community and develop stronger ties in the Eggertsville Snyder area.

“We’re looking forward to moving some of our programs out there,” Askey said, giving examples of the Citizen Police Academy and Youth Police Academy.

According to Askey, the goal would also be to interact with children in the area, and to not be known for only “stopping cars, writing tickets or arresting a neighbor.”

“We want to build those relationships and introduce some community policing programs in that neighborhood for those residents that may not be able or desire to come out to the Amherst Police Department,” he said.

“We want to make sure we’re doing everything that we can do to be the best possible performers we can be.”

Askey added that it’s important for officers to know when to use force and when not to use force.

“Our training these days is about setting up scenarios and realistic environments so that our officers aren’t exposed to incidents on the street for the first time.”

Askey noted that officers would have already experienced a situation in training and would be prepared whether it occurs in a school, home or restaurant, among other places.

“The two most important things in policing today are building relationships in your communities and making the best possible decisions in use-of-force situations, and that’s what we’re hoping to achieve.”

Askey added that he hasn’t been more excited about a project in his almost 11 years as a police chief.

According to Kulpa, a resolution regarding funding and project enabling would be on the agenda for the July 30 Town Board meeting. The meeting will take place at 7 p.m. at the Municipal Building, at 5583 Main St.

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