After putting up with years of dripping ceilings, cramped quarters and the occasional small electrical fire, the Arroyo Grande Police Department will unveil to the public its new, state-of-the-art redesigned and remodeled police station Saturday.
The station was expanded and remodeled after the city failed to pass two separate bond measures to fund construction of a new building that was projected to cost $7 million to $10 million.
The remodel cost approximately $2.2 million and added about 1,000 square feet to the 7,600-square-foot building.
Visitors to the new station will immediately notice — beyond the smell of fresh paint — a more wide-open, naturally lit and less intimidating lobby, featuring a display of historic police memorabilia on permanent loan from the California Law Enforcement History Society.
The entire building is now equipped with a state-of-the-art security system, including 32 new cameras (the building used to have four) and an entry control electronic key system that allows access to rooms only for essential personnel. The system records movement throughout the building, including in the evidence locker and armory.
The building, which had once been a telephone switching facility, had suffered constant electrical issues. All wiring throughout the building has been replaced and energy efficient motion-sensored LED lighting has been installed.
In the past few years, the city has set up almost 50 surveillance cameras throughout Arroyo Grande for crime deterrence, investigations and to monitor city events. In the next year, the city plans to install about 20 more, police Chief Steve Annibali said, and officers can monitor all feeds at once in the ultramodern new Investigations Support Center and Dispatch room.
The room serves not only monitoring purposes, but doubles as a backup South County dispatch center when needed from the Sheriff’s Office, which provides day-to-day dispatch services for the city.
“(The cameras) have been a phenomenal force multiplier for us,” Annibali said.
Conspicuously present in the monitoring room are copies of not only the city’s policy for monitoring the surveillance but also a guide on legal monitoring by the Constitution Project.
“None of this is done in secret,” Annibali said.
The new design also includes a new watch commander’s office, rooms for interviews, live scan, report writing and redesigned records and investigations sections, as well as an equipment room, break room, men’s and women’s locker rooms and a beefed-up armory and evidence locker.
During a tour of the building Friday, Annibali was unable to show off the evidence room because his e-key was not authorized.
“The system knows that I have no reason to be in there,” he said.
For the first time, the department now has a room to process evidence, connected via one-way lockers to the evidence technician’s room, as well as a refrigerated evidence storage system.
“We used to have to store some of that evidence in the break room refrigerator,” Annibali said. “You can imagine how creepy that was.”
Annibali said the station provides everything the department needs to operate on the cutting edge.
“This will serve the City of Arroyo Grande well for years to come,” he said.