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Sweeping Overhaul of LAPD Facilities Urged

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Concluding a first-of-its kind look at Los Angeles Police Department facilities, a high-powered group of consultants and city leaders has determined that only a series of multimillion-dollar bond issues and a long-term reinvestment in the department can overcome 30 years of civic neglect.

According to a copy of the report obtained Tuesday by The Times: “The condition of LAPD has fallen into an unfortunate state. . . . Facilities have been inadequate for so long that the financial resources to completely remedy existing conditions are not available. Much of the LAPD work force appears to have lost hope that anything can or will ever be done.”

One telling sign of the LAPD’s decay: The report does not even recommend trying to salvage the department’s fabled but now dilapidated headquarters, named Parker Center for former chief William Parker.

“Parker Center,” the report states, “should be demolished.”

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To overcome that malaise and the steady deterioration of the Los Angeles Police Department, the 66-page report, titled “Los Angeles Police Department Facilities Study,” recommends that a bond measure be submitted to voters no later than November. That bond measure would seek $432.5 million in new police facilities, including replacement of the department’s Hollenbeck, Rampart and West Valley stations, improvements to 10 others and construction of two stations--bringing the LAPD to a total of 20 divisions.

Future bond measures would bring the total cost to more than $1 billion, but would not be sought from voters until the initial improvements already were underway.

The first bond measure also would pay for construction of a $135.4-million police headquarters, but would not cover an additional $98.2 million worth of improvements to the headquarters that would be undertaken in future years.

Councilwoman Laura Chick, who commissioned the study, said “in terms of what the needs are, I agree with the report.” But she said she has not decided on the best way to finance the recommendations.

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“It’s taken us 30 years to get into this mess, and we’re not going to get out of it overnight,” Chick said. “It’s very telling that this is the first time in department history that we’ve ever asked in a thoughtful way this question: ‘What do we need in terms of police facilities?’ Thank God, at least, we’re finally doing it now.”

The issue of whether to demolish Parker Center, she said, “needs more thought. Parker Center is clearly inadequate to the department’s needs and we need to think seriously about what to do. We need to fix the problem, but I don’t know if replacement is the answer.”

LAPD Cmdr. Tim McBride said the report’s recommendation to construct additional stations and improve others will help the department meet its community policing goals.

“In some of our stations we’re so crowded we have to go elsewhere to meet with the public,” said McBride, the department’s spokesman. “With more stations and more room we can be proactive in our policing and reach some of our goals in regards to community policing. It’s gratifying to see attention focused on the facilities needs of the department, which are significant.”

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To reduce the overall cost of the construction under what the report’s authors--led by Kosmont and Associates, a consulting group--label “Platform 1,” the study suggests that the LAPD selectively solicit private contributions for land, furniture, buildings and the like.

Kosmont and Associates is a well-known local consulting firm that has been working for more than a year with Police Chief Willie L. Williams, city Chief Operating Officer Michael Keeley and other leading city and department officials.

In the far-reaching look, the report’s authors interviewed people in and around the LAPD, toured current sites and analyzed areas in which the department may soon be under the greatest stress.

One area, for instance, was the jails administered by the Police Department. Described in the report as “antiquated, dilapidated, obsolete” and beneath the standards for new facilities, all the jails eventually will need replacing, the authors conclude. One, in Central Bureau, would be covered under the first phase of the expansion.

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Likewise, the LAPD’s Scientific Investigation Division, much-maligned during the murder trial of O.J. Simpson, is in dire need of space and new equipment. Department officials have wavered on that point publicly, sometimes defending scientific operations, other times crying out that millions of dollars need to be invested in them.

“The SID unit has recently received a great deal of negative publicity in the news media, to the detriment of the department.” the report notes. “This is unfortunately an example of how inadequate facilities can have a negative impact on the public’s impression of the department and its operations.”

The report recommends upgrading SID facilities for now and replacing the entire area where the unit is housed as the department presses into the future.


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