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FULLERTON : Police Substation Opened in Topaz Neighborhood

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A new home base has opened in the Topaz neighborhood for police officers on foot and bicycle patrol.

City officials Wednesday officially opened the doors of the newest police substation, housed in the community center of the renovated Garnet Lane apartment complex, a $1.2-million, affordable-housing project.

The substation will serve as an office where police will investigate crimes, take breaks, store equipment, hold Neighborhood Watch meetings and answer questions for residents. Booking of crime suspects will not be conducted there.

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“It makes people here feel safe,” Officer Tom Conklin said of the substation.

Since the community policing program began in the area two years ago, he said, problems of gang violence, illegal parking, graffiti and deteriorating housing are all less severe, police said.

In addition to the substation, the complex now has a community center where the city, the building owner and volunteer groups offer free services such as parenting and family budget management classes, language courses, after-school tutoring and counseling programs.

Helen Brown, owner of Civic Center Barrio Housing Corp., which now owns the once-condemned Garnet Lane complex, said 115 people are on a waiting list for its two-bedroom apartments, which rent for an average of $420 a month.

Renters said they are grateful for the renovation, which corrected plumbing, electrical and other problems.

“The place is much better now,” said Joe Esparza, who has been living in the Garnet Lane apartments for three years. “I think I will use the community center, and if I have a problem I’ll know I’m only a wall away from the police.”

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