Amid musical performances, speeches and cheers, Koreatown residents welcomed their newest neighbor: the Los Angeles Police Department’s Olympic Station
A large crowd of residents sat or stood outside the front entrance at 11th Street and Vermont Avenue for the festivities.
The station will be staffed with at least 293 officers, who will patrol 6.2 square miles and service about 200,000 residents, mostly Koreans and Latinos.
“You have a brand-new neighbor and it’s Olympic Station. Your advantage is you have 300 people that live in that family,” said the station’s commanding officer, Capt. Matt Blake.
“We hope to see them come over a lot,” said Peter Ung, who owns a doughnut shop across the street.
After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, residents took tours of the new station and stood in line in the station’s parking lot for free lunches provided by local restaurants.
Children gawked at police horses or bounced inside a “castle” jumper.
Antonio Flores, 32, watched as his 6-year-old daughter, Melanie, received a silver badge sticker from an officer. His son, Jesse, glanced at the firetrucks.
The station, Flores said, “will be a great change. There’s a lot of shootings here. I’ll feel a little safer.”
Three months ago Jorge Hernandez, 38, moved into his brother’s apartment on Catalina Street near Pico Boulevard, an area that has been the site of several gang shootings. He said he makes sure he’s inside by 7 p.m.
In one of those shootings, Hernandez said, a bullet struck his neighbor’s door.
“Thank God they’re here,” he said of the station’s officers.
Sgt. Kevin Brawner, who will lead the station’s gang enforcement detail, said there are about 24 gangs in the area.
The 54,000-square-foot station was built at a cost of $34 million. The money came from Proposition Q, a public safety facilities bond measure approved by voters in March 2002.