Former State Police Superintendent Wayne Bennett had to smile Tuesday as he stood at the entrance to the new headquarters of Troop G
He remembered how the old headquarters in Loudonville seemed inadequate when he was commander of the growing troop for three years during the late 1980s. And he recalled selecting the new site on Troy-Schenectady Road from a list of 17 presented to him by the state Office of General Services in 2006 — less than a year before he retired from the state police.
Seeing the nearly 90,000-square-foot state-of-the-art complex completed gave Bennett — now Schenectady’s public safety commissioner — a sense of pride. After all, he said, it’s not too often the state police build a new headquarters.
“It’s very gratifying to see it,” he said after a ceremonial ribbon cutting at the facility Tuesday. “It’s nice to have your thumbprint on something like this.”
The new complex is situated on a 43-acre site west of Northway Exit 6. Most of Troop G’s personnel began moving into the facility in August.
About 250 people are expected to work in the headquarters, including troopers, dispatchers, investigators, technicians, command staff and civilian support personnel. The Capital District Traffic Management Center, now situated at the State Office Campus in Albany, will be moved to the new building within the coming weeks.
State police officials say the new $37 million facility, which also includes a 35,000-square-foot quartermasters storage and vehicle maintenance building, will provide Troop G with the space it needs for modern law enforcement. The new headquarters replaces a building Troop G has used since 1959 and was built long before criminal investigations employed computer technology.
Maj. William Sprague, Troop G’s commander, said the old building was very difficult to retrofit. For years now, he said state police have contended with an odd patchwork of wires that strung together the troop’s computer systems.
“To go back and reorganize it for modern computer systems wasn’t easy,” he said.
The old building was also designed during a time when the breadth of state police operations weren’t nearly as extensive. Aside from providing coverage in 11 counties encompassing the greater Capital Region, Troop G also has its own forensic lab, does accident reconstruction for local police agencies and has a dive team that performs various functions throughout the area.
At the Loudonville headquarters, the troop’s forensic unit was wedged in a small space in the basement. Evidence sometimes needed to be kept in vehicle maintenance areas, and the dive team had no space to stow or clean its equipment.
Almaro Garcia-Cabrera, a member of the dive team, said the lack of a dive facility meant having to scrub down his equipment at local fire stations after taking a plunge into waters contaminated with hazardous substances. The equipment, some of it still contaminated, then would be stowed in various places across the Capital Region.
“I’ve seen a diver take his stuff to his own garage,” he said.
The new headquarters gives the dive team space to keep its equipment under one roof. But more specifically, it gives them the area they need to maintain the expensive gear in proper working order.
“Everything we need is right here,” he said.
The Latham headquarters also brings dispatchers and monitors from the state Department of Transportation together in a modern communications hub. The new 24-hour center controls video feeds from DOT’s 30 traffic cameras and 25 construction cameras across the Capital Region. “It’s been a long road to get here,” Sgt. Timothy Morris said of the new hub.
The new evidence facility gives Troop G additional room and modern forensic equipment to aid investigations. Inv. Eric Smith said the forensics facility in the basement of the old building proved to be a difficult fit for the unit with advances in technology and innovation.
The search for a new headquarters site for Troop G began in 2003. The new site was ultimately chosen — and purchased in 2006 at a cost of $10.2 million — because of its proximity to key highways.
Siena College purchased the old Troop G headquarters for $1.9 million in 2007. The college is expected to use the property for additional office space.