It was just after 8 a.m. Wednesday and police at the empty Burbank jail were setting up in the control room, turning on lights, a laptop computer and a printer.
A fingerprinting machine was being transported from the Glendale jail, where Burbank has been booking suspects for almost a year because of work stemming from water damage on the Burbank Police-Fire building.
By midday Wednesday, inmates were being accepted at the Burbank facility.
Burbank police have been transporting arrested individuals to the jail in Glendale for booking since April, when the repair work began, adding at least 45 minutes to the process, Burbank Police Lt. John Dilibert said.
“Our quickest time is 45 minutes, with two officers, round trip, on a good day,” he said.
The convenience of Burbank having its own jail, which can hold up to 70 people, is huge, Dilibert added.
“Response times will decrease because we can turn over officers quicker versus commuting to Glendale and back,” he said. “It’s such a huge benefit. We have control of what’s happening in the jail, and as a watch commander, I know what’s going on down there.”
Glendale Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz said, “operationally, things won’t change for us.”
That’s because Burbank police handled their own arrestees and Glendale had the extra space in its facility, Lorenz said.
The joint-use arrangement was the result of festering issues in Burbank with shoddy construction.
Water intrusion at the Burbank Police-Fire headquarters was discovered in 2000, two years after the building opened.
The water damaged the jail floor, causing it to peel and posing a trip hazard, Dilibert said.
Spot repairs on the facility began in 2000 and continued to 2008, when the first phase of the renovation plan began, Burbank Public Works Director Bonnie Teaford said.
The current phase of the work — estimated at $8.6 million — began at the end of March 2011. Teaford said she anticipates the work will be completed in the next few weeks.
The first phase of the project cost $1.3 million, according to a city report.
Burbank Police Lt. Armen Dermenjian said police originally planned to open the jail on Feb. 14, but a final inspection revealed there were a few things to resolve.
Paint needed touching up and there were intercom connection problems.
“They were relatively minor, but we wanted to get everything fixed before the jail was occupied,” Dermenjian said.
A new meal plan for inmates is in place with Los Angeles County, a move the Burbank City Council approved in January that is expected to will save the city about $1,350 annually, according to a staff report.
The benefits of the services provided by the county involve more than a small savings, however. They also include more menu choices, less time required to prepare the hot meals and more frequent deliveries, according to a city report.
Outside the police-fire building this week, yellow caution tape closed off the back walkway into the building and potted plants sat near the entry as workers huddled to prepare for the work.
A canopy over the front entrance was still being worked on.
“We’re in the final stretches of about a year-long project,” Teaford said.