When Sheriff Leroy Baca visited the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s station in 2007, he saw something that dismayed him.
“There were incredible detectives working in cramped quarters,” he told a group of people clustered in the afternoon sun under green and gold pop-ups on Wednesday.
The cramped quarters were 1,700 square feet in the circa 1972 sheriff’s station just over the block wall behind the top cop. But that afternoon, dozens of white-shirted detectives were settling into their new 9,300 square foot home.
Baca, along with city and county officials, was there to cut a measure of yellow crime scene tape tied in a bow in front of those doors.
“44 years ago when I worked as a deputy at Wayside, I used to drive up here,” he said. “The 405 freeway wasn’t finished, so you had to take The Old Road for a ways. The Valencia Golf Course was being built and none of you lived here.”
After the laughter died down, the Sheriff shared some statistics.
“The population has grown substantially,” he said. “Now, we serve 275,000 people in a 648 square mile area, and the station has the same infrastructure. In 2008, deputies answered 54,000 calls for service and made 8,000 arrests. Detectives investigated 12,000 cases, without adequate space for paperwork and evidence processing.”
The new detective bureau, a short walk from the main station on Magic Mountain Parkway, is under a 7-year lease at the cost of $2.3 million to the county. County and city officials, station volunteers, other public safety representatives and curious citizens were invited inside to tour the new facilities, which includes a large conference room that can serve as the station’s Emergency Operations Center, a copy center, central work area to process and inventory evidence and recovered property, security and communications systems and two interview rooms equipped with the latest in investigative technology.
After suffering a good amount of jibes from the sheriff, the mayor and several visitors, the white-shirted detectives gathered in front of the new building for a picture, then moved to a nearby parking lot for the “yearbook shot.” When the number of visitors died down, most had grabbed a bottle of cold water and headed back to their spotless desks.