Medford police officers fed up with rundown headquarters

MEDFORD, Mass. — Officers say they’re fed up with falling windows, plumbing issues, mold and a slew of other concerns at the Medford Police Department.

The officers say it isn't just cosmetics, but a health and safety issue.

FOX25 began investigating after hearing from several concerned residents.

The chief took us for a tour of the building on Tuesday and we saw firsthand the overcrowded and outdated facility that's more than 50 years old.

“That's the one, I think they identify the most when they talk about mold issues," Chief Leo Sacco said, pointing out a patch of mold on a ceiling tile.

The building is a mess with moldy or missing ceiling tiles, dilapidated holding cells used for storage and broken windows propped open with a can of raid and paper towels.

“This is the elevator lobby, but you use this for fingerprinting … yeah, we use whatever space is available,” Chief Sacco said while walking through the building. "It's a health, safety and wellness issue."

The building is more than 50 years old. The Medford Police Department has outgrown it and officers say there are real safety issues as well.

"I am always looking up whenever I hear a door and, to be honest, there's no safety for me or the other people working the main desk,” Officer Eleanor Whelan said.

There is no barrier between the main desk and anyone who walks through the front door and the entire area lacks modern safety features you find at most newer departments.

“There's vermin, lot of mice and animals. We get a lot of odors from things in the ceilings, bugs, which all is on a gross factor,” Officer Whelan said. "It's embarrassing"

Whelan says female officers don't even have a place to shower.

“There's been many a time I'd have to go home to shower or clean up, either from bodily fluids or pepper spray,” She said.

They all share a bathroom, which they nicknamed ‘the closet.’

“We put locks on, but it doesn't shut right,” Chief Sacco said.

The men's locker room -- which doubles as a gym -- isn't much better.

The mayor of Medford has only held the position for 11 months and Chief Sacco says he believes the new administration will find funds and will prioritize getting the Medford police a new facility.

But he understands why his officers are fed up.

“You look around at other communities that are close by and you see brand new facilities that are cropping up left and right and they always say why not Medford?" Chief Sacco said.

Mayor Stephanie Burke told FOX25 she agrees the police station needs an upgrade and it is definitely a priority for her. She also said she has set aside $20 million in her draft of the capital improvements budget to construct a new facility, for which she is seeking real estate.

Mayor Burke says the city will be making some immediate improvements, including bringing in a professional cleaning crew and replacing the broken windows.