By Ron O’Clair
It has been 36 years since Green Island had a permanent police presence in the neighborhood once the City of Worcester finally opened the new headquarters building at Lincoln Square after nearly four years of construction and several years of discussion on the 14th of August, 1978. The move closed the Lamartine Street Station that was formerly in the Green Island neighborhood at 39 Lamartine Street which was used to house the Motor Patrol, and the Impact Division of the Worcester Police Department, consolidating operations of the department in the new location.
The former station was sold, and now houses Worcester Electrical Associates.
From that time to this, the only police presence in the neighborhood was via patrol route cars, or if someone summoned the police to respond to an emergency.
All that changed on the 1st of August 2013, when the District Attorney Joe Early Jr. Investigative Division moved out of its 19 Midstate Drive, Auburn location and came back to the City of Worcester where it had not been since 1990 when the old CPAC (Crime Prevention and Control) unit moved out of 283 Main Street due to having outgrown that space.
The Investigative Division of the Worcester County District Attorney is responsible for investigating all the murders that occur anywhere throughout the 59 Communities that make up Worcester County, with the exception of the City of Worcester itself, where murders happening within the City limits are investigated by the Worcester Police Department.
The unit, headed by State Police Captain Francis D. Leahy, and contains 17 investigators who are responsible to investigate drug trafficking and other major crimes within the Worcester County, and are available to assist other departments upon request.
The Midstate Drive facility which contains 5,732 square feet proved to be insufficient space for the ever growing unit, and the lease had expired, so a search for a new facility began early in the year. It had gotten so cramped in the Auburn space that some evidence had to be stored in the attic of the Holden State Police Barracks building, which was hardly ideal.
The new facility was chosen from amongst the many who responded for the request for proposals that had a dozen property owners vying for the chance to house the unit. Oddly enough, one of those bidders was the property owner of 1 Exchange Place, which was part of the old Waldo Street Police Station complex that was vacated when the City of Worcester built the new Headquarters Building at Lincoln Square.
Ironically the best suited property proved to also be the lowest bidder, and the property owner was willing to work with the District Attorney’s Office to remodel the 9 year old building to suit the new tenant, which took several months to complete.
The new facility located at 81 Lafayette Street has 8,796 square feet of space in total, and has been fortified with bullet proof glass, bullet resistant panels in the walls of the entryways, electronic card access to all areas, a public waiting area, a climate controlled evidence room, a fully functional kitchen, a work out space, offices for all seven supervisors, and the unresolved cases team, and cubicle space for each investigator, a large room that seats 50 people , two interview rooms with audio and video, and has enough additional capacity so that the unit can grow if needed from the current 17 members up to 24 members.
The unit is a welcome addition to the Green Island neighborhood, and will hopefully contribute to reducing crime in the area. Captain Leahy has plans to introduce the unit to the neighbors and neighborhood business owners once they are fully settled in their new space.
Law abiding citizens should feel free to stop in to the new offices with any tips that you may have about any illegal activity that is going on under our noses, I am sure that the capable investigators of Joe Early Jr., our District Attorney would be more than happy to have the support of the residents and business owners in furnishing valuable information that the investigators could follow up on. It is the civic duty of every citizen to help the police in any way that you can to combat crime, and this unit will add another level of enforcement in the area, and decrease the burden on our overtaxed City Police.