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Groundbreaking Held for Police Center in West Long Beach

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For some who gathered at an empty lot in west Long Beach Tuesday morning, the spectacle of 13 shiny shovels scooping clumps of dirt translated into little more than a pat on the back and free lox.

But for Penny Sandro, an activist in the city’s Filipino community who has lived near the site since 1958, Tuesday’s groundbreaking for the Long Beach West Police Station represented a long-sought commitment to securing what was once among Long Beach’s toughest neighborhoods.

“We have been waiting for this a long, long time,” Sandro said. “We are so happy and very, very grateful.”

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Indeed, judging by the speeches that several city officials delivered before the ceremony, the station seemed more like a conciliatory bridge to an overlooked neighborhood than a strategic center for law enforcement.

“You may say [the station] is too long in coming,” Mayor Beverly O’Neill said, “but let’s put that behind us. It’s happening today.”

Whatever gestures City Hall would attach to it, top officials of the Long Beach Police Department said that above all, the station will represent the fourth point on the city’s community policing compass.

The 20,000-square-foot facility will be similar to stations in other parts of the city that function as community centers. The new facility will have several rooms where residents will be able to interact with up to 200 officers stationed there.

“It’s really a community station, not just a police department,” said Cmdr. Bob Forbes, a main proponent of the station who has put off his retirement for two years already just to see the completion of the project.

The $7-million project, including $2.3 million for the former market property, was funded by property tax increment. An opening ceremony is scheduled next September.

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