BANGOR, Maine — For the first time in decades, Maine State Police investigators, troopers and dispatchers are working under the same roof.
Maine State Police Troop E celebrated its new, roomier barracks near Bangor International Airport on Wednesday afternoon with an open house and dedication ceremony.
When the Orono barracks was built in 1950, it was big enough for Troop E, which was made up of one lieutenant, two sergeants, 18 troopers and a pair of dispatchers. Over the years, the troop grew and added units, ultimately running out of space in the 3,300-square-foot building. Today, the troop consists of a lieutenant, three sergeants, 24 troopers, two dogs, an eight-member Major Crimes Unit, a Computer Crimes Unit, plus secretaries and dispatchers.
The growth forced several units to move out and find other office space. About 25 years ago, the Major Crimes Unit — then called the Criminal Investigation Division — left the Orono barracks in favor of office space in a wing of the state-owned Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center campus in Bangor. The Computer Crimes Unit also was based at Dorothea Dix.
Early this year, those units moved to the new building. Dispatchers finished their move early this summer, leaving the Orono barracks empty.
The move has been “a long time coming,” according to Lt. Wesley Hussey, who said the state had been looking for a new site since 2008.
Along with the main barracks building, known as Building 195, police are leasing Building 92, a 4,000-square-foot storage building, which has been converted into a garage used to service and repair Maine Department of Public Safety vehicles. Both buildings had been vacant since the mid-1990s, according to the airport.
Those two buildings have given the troop about 9,000 additional square feet to work with.
The city offered to cover about $400,000 worth of renovations in an effort to put the buildings back into use. The state police lease starts at $111,300 for the two buildings. Rent will increase in five-year increments until it reaches $129,750 in the 20th year of the lease.
Having everyone under the same roof will drastically improve communication and prevent troopers from needing to drive across town to meet with investigators, Hussey added.
Troop E covers Penobscot and Piscataquis counties and patrols 107 miles of Interstate 95, from Newport to Sherman.
Trooper Tom Fiske, who serves as a historian for Maine State Police, managed to dig up a copy of the program that was handed out during a ceremony when the Orono barracks opened in June 1950. That ceremony included an address by Gov. Frederick Payne and Sen. Robert Haskell. Fiske had copies made for Wednesday’s event.
“The Orono barracks was a legacy for us,” Hussey said at the event. “It served its purpose.”
The state’s Bureau of General Services likely will sell off the old Orono barracks in the future. For now, it will hold onto the building because radio communications run out of the tower on that site. The tower will be shut down once the statewide digital communications system, called the Maine State Communications Network, comes online. A tower standing at the new Bangor barracks likely will be tied into that network
Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter @nmccrea213.