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Special commemorative pull-out section January 25, 2013








The Signal Hill Police Station, officers and city dignitaries in the 1960s


The newly built Signal Hill Police Station and Emergency Operations Center

Photo by Matt Sun

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JANUARY 25, 2013

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The Signal Hill Police Department gets a new home

JANUARY 25, 2013

A new, 21,500-square-foot station, encompassing two build-

ings equipped with state-of-thetechnology and art environmentally friendly design components, will now be the headquarters of the Signal Hill Police Department. The City of Signal Hill will mark the occasion with a dedication and open house on Saturday, Jan. 26 from 1pm to 3pm, at the new station, located at 2745 Walnut Ave. The project’s background The new station was part of the Signal Hill Civic Center Project, which also encompasses a new library. Initial planning for the new library began in 1998, and the planning of the new

police station started in 2000. The projects involved multiple citizen committees, three rounds of applications for State grants, a failed local ballot measure to finance the improvements, and the active involvement of the Signal Hill Redevelopment Agency (SHRDA). The planning for the two projects was eventually combined and coordinated, with the police station being the first phase since it was to be relocated away from the Civic Center complex. The new police station is located on property the SHRDA acquired approximately three-quarters of a mile from the Civic Center. The relocation of the new police station created an oppor-

tunity to construct the new library on the site of the existing station, as well as preserving public open space. It also created a series of construction and environmental challenges, including soil remediation and the testing of an on-site abandoned oil well. The construction challenges include the removal of the full basement from the old police station, stabilization of the library building, and re-grading the northern portion of Signal Hill Park. Meeting a need According to the City’s Civic Center Project Plan, the need for both a new police station and library had become evident

in the late 1990s. The city’s population had grown from 5,588 in 1970 to 9,300 in the year 2000. The current population of Signal Hill is more than 11,000 residents. A Citizens Blue-Ribbon Committee studied the existing station and recommended its demolition and replacement in 2002. In November of 2009, the SHRDA issued a $20.6 million bond to build the new station. In March of 2011, the SHRDA issued an $8.8 million bond to construct a new library. Construction on the new police station, which occupies a block starting at the corner of 27th Street and Walnut Avenue, began in November of 2010. Demolition of the old station is scheduled to begin this March.


The new, ‘green’ facility The new station boasts solar panels that provide shade for the department’s patrol cars and the mobile command center. have been Windows designed to let in natural light throughout the building, and the automatic lighting system adjusts its electrical lights to maximize use of natural light. A drip-irrigation system provides water to the droughttolerant plants that have been placed all over the grounds. Water runoff on the property will stream through vegetative bioswales that will filter waste in the water before it drains into the street. The building has instant water heaters instead of water boilers. Each room will have its own energy-efficient airconditioning system.

Congratulations to Signal Hill on their new police station! Matt Sun/Signal Tribune

The new, 21,500-square-foot station encompasses two buildings equipped with state-of-the-art technology and environmentally friendly design components.


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JANUARY 25, 2013

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Building a ‘modern’ police station for a growing community JANUARY 25, 2013

Sean Belk


Staff Writer

early a decade ago, Signal Hill City officials and community members envisioned a new “modern” police station that would be nearly twice the size of the existing station and come equipped with the latest technology, a new emergency-operations center (EOC) and enough room to accommodate a police force that has grown along with the City’s population. That vision becomes a reality next Tuesday, Jan. 29, when the Signal Hill Police Department officially relocates operations and staff from the aging nearly 13,000-square-foot building on Hill Street to a new 21,500-square-foot facility at 2745 Walnut Ave. Building a new police station from scratch, however, wasn’t an easy task, explains Signal Hill City Manager Ken Farfsing. He said the undertaking required years of planning with various community members to determine how to finance the endeavor, come up with the best location and pinpoint the police department’s needs. The nearly $20-million project also involved issuing bonds through redevelopment after a failed utility-tax measure, finishing a lengthy land-acquisition procedure through eminent domain, cleaning up oil contamination and completing the construction phase that took nearly two years after a contractor abruptly pulled out of the project. Although it’s been a long process, Farfsing said the new building is well worth the wait. “It’s not easy to build public facilities,” he said. “This is a major facility that’s going to last the city 100 years or more, and it takes time to really do it the right way… We needed a complete modernization of our police department’s facility.” Starting next week, the new police station will feature a dispatch center with state-of-the-art communications systems and an EOC that is approximately 300 square feet larger than the EOC in the old building. The new EOC enables the City to assist the community and nearby public-safety agencies and communities in emergencies and natural disasters. The EOC will also be available for community groups to use as a meeting room. In addition, the new station was built using: Art-Deco architecture to mirror City structures; environmentally friendly features, including solar panels and drought-tolerant landscaping; and the highest building-safety and seismic standards to withstand major earthquakes and other disasters. The new structure also allows for future expansion to meet the long-term needs of the police department, City officials said. A growing police force The push to build a new police station was primarily driven by an assessment of police-facility needs commissioned by WMM and Associates in 2002 that determined the Signal Hill Police Department had officially “outgrown” its police station. As the City’s population has increased from about 4,600 to 11,300 residents in the last 50 years, following substantial commercial and residential developments, Signal Hill’s police force has also grown, doubling from 25 to nearly 50 staff members, including police officers and administration. The police station on Hill Street was first built in the 1960s and then renovated in the 1970s at the Civic Center between City Hall and the Signal Hill Library. However, the building has become more and more cramped throughout the years. Farfsing said the City added six additional police officers and other personnel in the last few years that only compounded the problem. Police Chief Michael Langston said the department’s old facility no longer meets the standards of today’s police needs. For instance, emergency operations, including briefing and dispatch operations, function out of a single room that serves as the department’s EOC, while a lieutenant works out of an office the size of a “converted closet,” he said. “I have six employees who work in records, and, really, there’s only space for about three people there,” Langston said. “They can’t really sit down and do their work effectively, and that’s hampering our effectiveness and our efficiency… We don’t even have enough parking for all of our employees to park here.” He added that the old police facility is also in need of repairs, including upgrades to plumbing and air-conditioning systems and new ceiling panels due to water damage. The needs-assessment findings were studied by a 22-member Blue-ribbon committee, formed in 2004 to provide a balance of community interests on the subject. Committee members included residents, local business representatives, community leaders, City staff and Police Officers Association members.

An aerial photo shows the four-acre site of the new police station on Walnut Avenue between 27th and 28th streets during construction.

Instead of putting more money into an aging structure that was considered “undersized” even when it was first built, the committee concluded that building a new station would be the most “efficient and cost-effective” option. It was also determined that the old facility would have needed numerous upgrades to meet current public-facility building codes. Plans called for building a new facility that would accommodate a new EOC and new police technology. Anything other than a new facility was considered a “Band-Aid” solution, City staff said. “There was just so much work that needed to be done, sometimes you’re better off tearing things down and starting over,” Farfsing said.

How it was financed A major goal of the committee was to come up with a way to finance the new station. The first recommendation was to propose a temporary three-percent utility tax to fund the construction of a new station initially proposed on a site on Spud Field in the Civic Center near the existing building. That proposal eventually went on the election ballot but failed to receive a majority support from voters, Farfsing said. After regrouping, the City then decided that the best way to finance the project would be to issue bonds through the former Signal Hill Redevelopment Agency (RDA), he said. Farfsing said the police station project was one of the last redevelopment activities able to go forward before redevelopment was abolished by the State, and the funding allocation was also recognized by the State as an enforceable obligation. The redevelopment bonds raised $18 million to fund the acquisition of the site and construction of the police station. The funding also includes reimbursement of previous expenditures of approximately $1.2 million for costs associated with design, project management and legal services. Farfsing said funding the project through bonds paid off by existing property-tax-increment funds enables the City to build the station without having to pass new taxes on to residents. “It’s keeping our local property taxes local,” he said. “When people pay their property taxes in Signal Hill, they’re essentially supporting the new station, which, to me, is pretty worthwhile.”

Finding a location Finding a suitable location for the police facility was also a challenge. The City evaluated a dozen potential sites for the new police station using a series of site-selection criteria. Any potential site was required to: be located outside of the Alquist-Priolo Fault Zone; provide access to major streets to enable the police to quickly respond to calls; have “minimal” site-

development constraints, such as interference from oil well operations; be located in a “centralized easy-to-find location;” and minimize the loss of existing park land. The location of the new station eventually came down to two sites: an undeveloped threeacre site on Spring Street within the Signal Hill Auto Center, and a four-acre property located on the northwest corner of Walnut Avenue and 27th Street. In 2007, it was eventually determinded that the property on Walnut Avenue as the most suitable site for the station, due to its larger size, “centralized” location and access to major streets giving the police better response capability. Acquiring the land After settling on the four-acre site on Walnut Avenue, acquiring the land required a lengthy process, Farfsing said. The site, which was once used as a site for “concerts in the park,” had been a vacant field for decades, he said. The distressed property, however, was owned by more than 7,000 individual property owners who first purchased small parcels from oil speculators in the 1920s and set up property sales to raise money to drill oil, Farfsing said. “What happened was two wells were put on the property, and a large tank was put in, but over time, these property owners got lost,” he said. “Some perhaps were grandfathered in with a deed and never passed it on. Derricks were taken out, the big tank disappeared, and no one could really pull together ownership interests.” In the 1960s, Texaco Inc., as the unit operator of the Signal Hill West Unit, attempted to contact the numerous vested owners in an attempt to purchase the fee interest in the property but later terminated their efforts since they could only find an estimated 6.25-percent of the original deed holders, City officials said. The City then decided to use the redevelopment agency’s powers of eminent domain to condemn the property in court since the leaseholders couldn’t be located. “We did a pretty extensive check and found some additional lease holders, and we eventually ended up going to court to condemn out the property, because the deeds had disappeared” Farfsing said.

We are proud to join the City of Signal Hill in celebrating the opening of its brand-new


City of SH

Construction phase Construction work began on the project in November 2010. However, in February of last year, the original contractor, Irvinebased FTR International, abandoned the job, leaving no response to any of the City’s communications. Still, City officials said the work stoppage didn’t end up costing the City any money. FTR had posted a bond, as required by state law in case the company defaulted on the contract, acting as an insurance policy. Once City officials had determined that FTR had defaulted, the City formally terminated the contract and contacted the bond company– Arch Insurance, based in Philadelphia. The bond company then brought in a new general contractor, Kemp Brothers Construction, based in Santa Fe Springs, which restarted the work in May. Although the work abandonment, in addition to a heavy rain season last year, ended up delaying the project by several months, Signal Hill Deputy City Manager Charlie Honeycutt said the construction project is estimated to come in about $2.5 million under budget. In the end, he said the new station will help the police department become more efficient and now gives the City the capability to not only serve the Signal Hill community but other nearby communities in the greater region as well, while partnering with public-safety agencies from Long Beach and Los Angeles County due to the station’s proximity to the airport, the Port of Long Beach and the Port of LA. “Eventually time comes when you just need to build new facilities,” Honeycutt said. “[The new station] clearly makes a much better environment for us to help the community if there is an emergency... We’re going to be in an environment that’s a little more manageable, and it’s going to make it more efficient for us to respond.”

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JANUARY 25, 2013

A picture of crime and the long arm of the law from Signal Hill’s early days CJ Dablo


Staff Writer

ignal Hill’s police officers in their early days had their work cut out for them in the town that was starting to truly feel the effects of oil speculation in the 1920s. Signal Hill’s board of trustees organized quickly in their first year of Signal Hill’s incorporation in 1924. A month after incorporation, the trustees named George P. Millovich to be Signal Hill’s first city marshal. The trustees approved orders for sirens, caps and badges for their fledgling police department. The trustees even readily agreed to hiring staff to help Millovich in that first year, but they did require some sacrifices from the police staff. The first motorcycle officer– hired at a starting salary of $165 per month– was required by the trustees to furnish his own motorcycle and maintain it on his own dime. City records and pictures suggest that by 1925, the police were working in a civic center located on the northeast corner of what is now 21st Street and Cherry Avenue, just east of the Hinshaw Building. The police department must have faced some unique challenges in order to maintain law and order in those early days. The city was changing– and changing speedily– with the discovery of oil. Dr. Craig Hendricks, a professor at the History and Political Science Department at Long Beach City College,

described how the discovery of oil fundamentally changed the agricultural town previously known for its cucumbers and strawberries. “It’s like a gold strike…when you have a sudden development of a natural resource like oil, it attracts all sorts of people,” said Hendricks in an interview Thursday. “Workers and entrepreneurs, but also prostitution and gambling, illegal alcohol. You name it.” The historical archives from the Los Angeles Times confirm Hendricks’s assessment that the area attracted the criminal element. The archives offer a few stories of sensational arrests in the early 1920s in Signal Hill. One news account from 1922– just two years before the city was incorporated– detailed how Long Beach police officers raided three hotels in Signal Hill and arrested 14 people connected with these “vice dens.” The article offered juicy descriptions of roulette wheels, marked cards and loaded dice for illegal gambling, “public women,” alcohol and lots of guns. Prohibition was well underway by the time Signal Hill incorporated, and Prohibition meant the same thing just about everywhere in the United States– bootlegging. Hendricks said that by around 1924 and 1925, “Long Beach and Signal Hill are awash in an ocean of illegal alcohol.” According to Hendricks, the alcohol was produced either locally in stills or were brought in from Mexico or Canada. Hen-

Photos courtesy City of SH and SHHS

A 1925 photo shows Signal Hill’s police station among the city hall offices on 21st Street, east of Cherry Avenue.

dricks described how the Long Beach police department alone was making dozens of arrests related to illegal alcohol every day. The punishment usually involved a choice between jail time or a fine, according to Hen-

dricks. Often, the accused would choose to pay the fine that could total a few hundred dollars. “And so what…prohibition becomes for the City of Long Beach and for the City of Los Angeles and for the City of Sig-

Prohibition was well underway by the time Signal Hill incorporated as a city. Here, city leaders ceremoniously destroy a stash of seized alcohol.

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nal Hill is a vast money-making machine,” Hendricks said. He added that Long Beach collected about $77,000 in fines in 1925, which was for that time a lot of money. To give some perspective, the Signal Hill Police Department’s entire budget for a staff of five men totaled $12,000 in the fiscal year ending 1930, according to a financial report from Signal Hill: The Magic Mound, a city brochure that was recovered by members of the Signal Hill Historical Society. Indeed, Signal Hill’s police force had its share of drama in its first year. The Dec. 15, 1924 minutes of Signal Hill’s board of trustees offered one clue. Seven months after Millovich was hired as the city’s first city marshal, he resigned, and the board that night immediately named a successor, Fred Hawkins, to replace Millovich. A strange twist to the story occurred just days later. The Dec. 22 minutes reported that Fred Hawkins died, and the board of trustees called a special meeting to address Millovich’s resignation. They named yet another successor to the office of city marshal– Roy Gregg. There is likely much more to this story, but available historical rescources are scarce. The author of Signal Hill: The Magic Mound didn’t take a dim view of the city, five years after the birth

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JANUARY 25, 2013



Oil-recovery equipment proved extremely valuable during the town’s oil boom that began in the 1920s. Here, police officials display some stolen machinery and gear they recovered.

of the city and well after that rocky inaugural year. “Notwithstanding the general belief that an ‘oil town’ is necessarily a ‘tough’ one,” wrote the

brochure’s unidentified author, “we find those working and living in Signal Hill remarkably peaceable and law abiding. It is true we have our problems, but

not more than other cities of like size, and considering the nature of our industries, we think we are remarkably fortunate in this respect.”

Sources: Sensational Raid: Long Beach Officers Put Stop to Carnival of Vice Running in Hotels on Los Angeles Times (1886-1922); Mar. 27, 1922; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Los Angeles Times (1881-1989). pg. I7. Signal Hill: The Magic Mound. Pg. 19.

City leaders display a major stash of alcohol apparently uncovered by police during Prohibition.

In the 1960s, Signal Hill police headquarters moved into the location at 1800 Hill Street.


on the new Police Facility & Emergency Operations Center!

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Chiefly speaking

JANUARY 25, 2013

Meet the three police chiefs involved with the new police station project

Since the new Signal Hill police station has been in the works since the late 1990s, three different police chiefs have been in command of the department during the planning and construction of the project. The Signal Tribune contacted Don Pedersen, Tom Sonoff and Michael Langston and asked each about his involvement with the project, the need for a new station and its future.

Don Pedersen

When did you serve as police chief of the SHPD? I was appointed as the chief of police in January of 2001 and served through May of 2006. Prior to that, I served in the Operations Bureau as commander for 3 years.

What were some of the challenges you and the department faced with the old police station? The old police station was very small with very little space for various types of meetings, including everyday business meetings as well as community meetings. The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) was outdated and required significant upgrades and improvements. The technology utilized was outdated and cumbersome. Additionally, there was no room for growth in the old police department facility.

Since you were instrumental in the planning stages of the new station, is there some disappointment that you won’t be able to reap its benefits? Yes. I am disappointed, but I couldn’t be more pleased for the men and women of the Signal Hill Police Department, who will have the good fortune of working in a contemporary police facility. This is also fantastic for the residents and business owners. Interestingly, I have been involved in the planning stages of three public-safety facilities, all of which have now been built. None of which I have worked in!

How do you think the new station will change things for the department, in terms of recruitment, retention of personnel, and day-to-day operations? I think that the new facility will make the department more effective and efficient in its day-today operations, and also I think by providing a nice working environment, it can only be beneficial in the recruitment and retention of police personnel.

Who helped organize the Blue Ribbon Committee, and how did it help to achieve the vision you had for the new police station? The Blue Ribbon Committee was instrumental in forming the vision for not only the new facility, but also the police department’s staffing model. I organized the Blue Ribbon Committee, which consisted of critical stakeholders, including members of the community, with the assistance of the city manager, and the City Council.

How do you think the distance between City Hall and the new police station will affect relations between the two entities? I don’t believe that the short distance between City Hall and the new police facility will negatively affect relations. In fact, it was always my experience that the relationship between the police department and City Hall has been unparalleled.

I am so pleased that the vision has now become a reality, and I am excited for the City.

Tom Sonoff

When did you serve as police chief of the SHPD? In what other ranks did you serve? I served as a captain from July 2001 to May 2006. I was chief of police from May 2006 to November 2010.

What part did you play in the planning of the new police station? With whom did you work? What input did you provide? I worked with Chief Pedersen, Charlie Honeycutt and other City staff members in the site selection process and the attempt to pass a bond to finance the project. Later, I worked with retired Captain Mary Risinger, Charlie Honeycutt, Steve Wiley (architect) and others on the design of the building.

How do you think the new station will change things for the department, in terms of recruitment, retention of personnel and day-to-day operations? The citizens of Signal Hill and the members of the Signal Hill Police Department deserve a first-rate police facility. The modern facility will allow the Police Department to further their mission of providing quality law enforcement services to the community with more space for new programs, up-to-date technology, new Emergency Operations Center, etc. The new facility will help encourage potential employees to consider a career with the Signal Hill Police Department.

How do you think the distance between City Hall and the new police station will affect relations between the two entities? The distance between the new police facility and city hall will not have any effect on the relationship between the two. With modern technology, communication is only a telephone call or a mouse click away. The new police facility will also have plenty of meeting space, so meetings routinely held at city hall can at times be held at the police department.

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Michael Langston

What do you think will be the biggest differences between the old police station and the new one? Space! The old station has insufficient space for our employees to do their work, and that will change with the new station. For example, we have six employees working in the Records Bureau in a space designed for only three employees. The new station will have enough space for all of these employees to do their work simultaneously. I have a lieutenant who works out of a converted closet currently. These are just a few examples of space-related issues with the current facility.

How do you think the distance between City Hall and the new police station will affect relations between the two entities? This distance will not change relationships between the two entities; The Department has already developed a policing plan for maintaining a significant presence around Signal Hill Park, the Library and City Hall. Weekly Department Head meetings will be scheduled at the new police facility on a rotational basis so that the City Manager, Deputy City Manager and Department Directors will have opportunity to interact with police staff. Frankly, it is not lost on any of us that we are all employees of the City of Signal Hill and serve the City of Signal Hill.

How do you think the new station will change things for the department, in terms of recruitment, retention of personnel and day-to-day operations? The Signal Hill Police Department has always been able to attract quality applicants and employees. That said, I would expect that potential employees will appreciate the state-of-the-art facility and equipment when considering applying to the department as do our employees who will benefit from working in this exceptional facility. As far as day-to-day operations go, I fully expect the department to become more efficient and able to provide an even higher level of service to the community due to the enhanced capabilities resulting from the technologies built into the new facility.

How will the officers benefit in terms of sleeping accommodations in the new station? Sleeping at the new station as it is now is not something that we encourage because it is better for our employees to go home and sleep in their own homes and beds where they feel more comfortable and can relax. That said, the nature of police work is such that employees periodically get held over past their 12-hour scheduled work day and might have to be back early the next day for court or their next shift. On those occasions, we do have two sleep rooms off of each locker room for employees to utilize if necessary. They are pretty basic accommodations.

What is your overall vision of what the new police station will achieve in terms of identity and credibility for the police department? We envision the new facility as a community police station where people will feel comfortable coming to engage in community- as well as police-related business. The Signal Hill Police Department has always strived to provide a very high level of service here in Signal Hill. That effort will only be expanded with the utilization of the new facility.

What comments are members of the police department staff making about the new station? Interestingly enough, we have many employees who have not had a chance to see the regular progress of the new station from groundbreaking to now. Those that are just getting over to the new facility now are pretty amazed at what they see. Remember, they are used to working in a facility that was originally built back in the ‘30s and then updated in the late ‘70s, early ‘80s. The current building has virtually no windows compared to the new facility that is very open and airy. They are awe struck by the space and beauty of the new facility.

What do you think will be the perception surrounding the new station’s close proximity to one of the city’s two “gentleman’s clubs?” It really isn’t an issue. Officers will continue to patrol the City as they have in the past with the base station being the only change.

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JANUARY 25, 2013



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JANUARY 25, 2013

A timeline of the past 89 years of law enforcement in Signal Hill

The Signal Hill Police Department in 1947

Congratulations to the City and the Signal Hill Police Department on your new police station! Ken Farfsing City Manager

Charlie Honeycutt Deputy City Manager

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• 1924– City officials appoint George Millovich to serve as Signal Hill’s first city marshal. • 1960– Station on 1800 Hill Street opens where police staff of approximately 25 employees serves a population of 4,600 residents. • 1970s– Updates to the station serve a new population of 5,588 residents. • 2002– WMM and Associates releases police-facility needs assessment that determines the police department has “outgrown” its police station. Police department staff grows to more than 50 employees, serving a population of more than 11,000 residents. • 2004– City Council commissions a 22-member Blue-Ribbon Committee to evaluate staffing and facility needs identified by Police Chief Don Pedersen. • 2009– Former Signal Hill Redevelopment Agency begins process to issue bonds to fund the construction of a new police station. • 2010– Construction of new station begins at 2745 Walnut Ave. • 2011– FTR International abandons project. Work is picked up by Kemp Brothers Construction. The Signal Hill Police Department in the 1960s

• Jan. 26, 2013– Police department celebrates grand opening of Walnut Avenue location. • Jan. 29, 2013– Police department moves into new police station

The new Signal Hill police station on Jan. 18, 2013

Timeline of events made possible with historical-research help from: Ken Davis and Keaton King of the Signal Hill Historical Society; Gail Ashbrooke of the Signal Hill Public Library; and Charlie Honeycutt and Rebecca Burleson of the City of Signal Hill.

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Green enough?

JANUARY 25, 2013




Planners hope police station’s earth-friendly innovations achieve major environmental stamp of approval

Photos by CJ Dablo/Signal Tribune

Windows on the roof and all around the building will let in natural light.

lighting system adjusts its electrical lights to maximize the use of natural light. A drip-irrigation system waters the drought-tolerant plants that have been placed all over the property. Water runoff on the property will pass through vegetative bioswales that will filter waste in the Construction manager Paul Buckley points out the station’s individual heating and air-conditioning units on the rooftop. water before it drains into the street. The tion, use of recycled materials, insulation, CJ Dablo building has instant hot-water heaters and even education. He added that certiStaff Writer instead of hot water boilers. fication doesn’t just look at energy and ignal Hill’s new police station is the cost. “But it also benefits the users on a’s a win-win for first major civic construction project daily basis…It’s a much more comforteverybody overall. since the city yard was built in the 1980s, able environment to work in. You’re givand really it’s the first and best shot for ing them natural light. You’re giving And that’s the thing the City to show just how green Signal them fresh air. So it’s a win-win for that impresses me most Hill projects can be. everybody overall. And that’s the thing about the project. The people behind construction of the that impresses me most about the projbuilding have been shooting for what’s ect.” –Simplus Management called LEED certification at the silver Signal Hill Deputy City Manager Corporation construction level, a high standard for environmen- Charlie Honeycutt emphasized the importally friendly and sustainable practices. tance of achieving LEED certification. manager Paul Buckley Certification will be verified through an “I think it just shows that you’re doing independent third-party organization. everything you can to…minimize the City officials won’t know if they did in impact of the environment, to reduce Individual rooms will have their own fact get that earth-friendly stamp of your energy consumption, which also energy efficient air-conditioning units. approval for a couple of months. The ultimately reduces the impact of the enviHoneycutt and Buckley explained that certification process won’t be completed ronment,” said Honeycutt in an interview using individual air-conditioning and until after building is opened, according Monday. to Paul Buckley of Simplus Management Honeycutt and Corporation. Buckley serves as the con- Buckley discussed the struction manager for the police station long list of green innoproject. He says that so far, the project is vations for the 21,500“on target” to achieve the silver level and square-foot building. explained that the certification process Solar panels have been has specific goals and those involved installed over the prophave been tracking their progress to make erty storage building sure they achieve these goals. and the mobile com“What surprises me all the time– and mand center. Windows I’m in the industry– is how comprehen- have been designed to sive the LEED process is,” said Buckley, let in lots of natural noting that the certification process has light all over the buildstandards for lighting, energy consump- ing, and the automatic


heating units has an advantage over using one central system to heat and cool areas. Workers could choose to turn off areas at night that weren’t in use when many of the staff leave at the end of their shifts. They’ve also paid attention to the green practices during the construction process in their efforts to follow the requirements of the LEED certification process. They’ve put a system in place that will eliminate hazardous production gases before the staff moves into the building. Much of the construction material has been recycled. Even before real construction began, planners had to consider the hazards of building on land that has inherent safety issues because of oil production. Honeycutt explained that there is a possibility of naturally occurring methane gas, and a methane collection system has been put in place that safely vents methane through the roof of the building. Signal Hill Councilmember Larry Forester, who recently toured the new police station, called the building “spectacular” at last week’s council meeting and echoed the praise of several councilmembers. “The space is inviting for your forces to come in and work,” Forester told Police Chief Michael Langston.

The Signal Hill Historical Society would like to commend the men and women police officers who have served our city all these years. We congratulate the city on their new police station which is a milestone in the city's history.

Solar panels will save on energy costs for the new police station.

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JANUARY 25, 2013

New police station involved input from wide variety of Signal Hill community members

Sean Belk


Staff Writer

t’s been nearly 10 years since Signal Hill City officials first proposed the idea of building a new police station. Throughout that time, a wide variety of community members, from residents to business owners, to City and police officials, have been involved almost every step of the way. In August 2004, a Signal Hill Police Department BlueCommittee was Ribbon appointed by the City Council to evaluate the police department’s staffing and facility needs after an assessment commissioned by WMM and Associates two years prior determined that the department had “outgrown” its police station. The 22-member committee met over an 11-month period through various meetings to evaluate needs identified by then Police Chief Don Pedersen. Those needs included whether to add six police officers to the department’s police force to meet increasing

demands of a growing community and whether to upgrade the police station. The committee ultimately recommended adding the new police officers after determining that the department was “understaffed.” The committee also recommended building a new police facility after concluding that the station on Hill Street was “old, undersized and inefficient,” according to a report from the committee. A major responsibility of the committee, however, was to come to a “consensus” on a way to finance the new police station. After looking over several different fee options, the committee ended up recommending a three-percent utility tax to fund the construction of the new building. The City Council scheduled a vote on the utility tax measure, known as Measure H, for the November 8, 2005 election. However, Signal Hill voters overwhelmingly rejected the tax measure. After regrouping, City staff determined that the best option to finance the police facility, in addition to a new library, would

SPECIAL SECTION Neena R. Strichart



Cory Bilicko


Sean Belk



CJ Dablo


Matt Sun




Jane Fallon Neena Strichart Tanya Paz


Kaelyn Bruno Ariana Gastelum EDITORIAL INTERNS

Special thanks to Ken Davis for providing historic photos

939 E. 27th st. signal hill, Ca 90755 (562) 595-7900 www.signaltribunE.Com nEwspapEr@signaltribunE.Com

be to issue bonds through the former Signal Hill Redevelopment Agency (SHRDA).

“It was a roundtable of ideas, and nobody’s ideas were dismissed. They were all discussed in an open forum, and everybody had an opportunity to voice their opinions.”

–Blue-Ribbon Committee Member Rose Richard

The original Civic Center Concept Plan included constructing the new police station on Spud Field, which received considerable input from the community. After a series of community work-

shops, it was then determined that the most suitable location would be a four-acre site located on Walnut Avenue. This month, nearly two years after the original contractor first broke ground on the project, the Signal Hill Police Department will relocate to a new 21,500-squarefoot, modern facility. Although the committee’s recommendation for a utilitytax measure was ultimately voted down, Rose Richard, a current Signal Hill planning commissioner and former longtime police volunteer who served on the committee, said the community was heavily involved throughout the process. She said the project was an example of the community coming together to work on a common cause. “The committee was comprised of a really good cross section of Signal Hill residents, business people, City officials and police personnel,” Richard said. “It was a roundtable of ideas, and nobody’s ideas were dismissed. They were all discussed in an open forum, and

everybody had an opportunity to voice their opinions… believe it or not, it was reasonably diplomatic.” Former Signal Hill Mayor Keaton King, who also served as a committee member, said one of the main reasons for recommending a new police facility was that the old building wasn’t fit to handle the police department’s new equipment. He said the new station is now “first class” and capable of operating such up-to-date technology. Signal Hill Parks & Recreation Commissioner Gary Dudley, who served on the committee as well, said he looks forward to touring the new building and that he is pleased the City settled on a “good location” of which police can get in and out. “It looks like a beautiful facility, and it’s right on the cutting edge,” he said. “It’s very efficient as far as the environment is concerned and for the size of our police department and any prisoners we might have… it’s a very forward and modern concept.”

Police Station Blue-Ribbon Committee Members

Tina Hansen, Signal Hill city councilmember Craig Barto, president/CEO of Signal Hill Petroleum Stefanie Camacho, resident Tony Dannan, Promontory HOA Howard Davis, president of Universal Care Gary Dudley, Signal Hill Parks & Recreation commissioner Emerson Fersch, Signal Hill City Treasurer Dave Frick, Signal Hill planning commissioner and Signal Hill POA boardmember Miriam Garcia, principal of Burroughs Elementary School Ed Green, director of Willow Urgent Care Stan Henderson, resident and member of USC Department of Public Safety Charlie Honeycutt, Signal Hill deputy city manager Brian Leyn, detective and Signal Hill POA boardmember Bob Long, resident and past president of Signal Hill Rotary Club Dennis MacArthur, Signal Hill finance director Tom Naughton, pastor of Signal Hill Christian Center Steve Owens, senior detective and POA president Mike Reid, Signal Hill administrative sergeant Rose Richard, Signal Hill planning commissioner and past police volunteer Neena Strichart, resident and Signal Tribune publisher Brad Willingham, co-owner of Boulevard Buick GMC

Best of luck to Signal Hill’s men and women in blue! Enjoy your new station! Voted #1

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JANUARY 25, 2013



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JANUARY 25, 2013

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THE NEW SIGNAL HILL POLICE STATION SIGNAL TRIBUNE 15 With new station, SHPD ready to expand its volunteer program

JANUARY 25, 2013 Sean Belk


Staff Writer

fter the Signal Hill Police Department fully transitions to its new police station next week, it is planning to continue actively recruiting interested residents for its Community Volunteer Program. Sgt. Brian Leyn, who manages the program, said the police department is expected to have a “vigorous hiring process” for volunteers this year after the move into the new station. Currently, the department has 15 volunteers but is willing to add more, he said, adding that the new station provides volunteers with their own room, complete with workstations, after previously operating out of a briefing room in the old facility. Leyn said the police department gets anywhere from two to three calls a week from interested citizens looking to apply or help the department. The police volunteer program, which started 16 years ago, accepts interested Signal Hill residents at least 21 years old. Potential volunteers are required to make a one-year commitment to donate at least 12 hours of service a month and attend volunteer meetings. Police volunteers receive classroom, field and in-service training, while learning about the police

department’s operations and the justice system. Lately, volunteers have been able to branch out within different areas of the police department, such the detective bureau, records and administration, and it now has a bike-patrol program, Leyn said. He said the program has recently become a “mixed group” and has received interest from residents age 25 to senior citizens. Leyn said the program has been able to save the City money and manpower by taking care of tasks that police officers typically can’t get to, such as parking enforcement, DUI checkpoints and community events, while riding along during patrols. Community volunteers also provide assistance to police staff by writing newsletters, planning and maintaining business and neighborhood-watch programs as well as compiling data for statistical analysis. Volunteers also provide support in bicycle registration, clerical functions, fingerprinting services, newsletter creation, drug/gang prevention, crime prevention, vehiclespeed watch and vacation watch. “We’ve always tried to involve the community as much as we can, because any police department will tell you, ‘we can’t do everything ourselves’… it’s always going to have to

Courtesy SHPD

Signal Hill Police Department’s volunteers during a Volunteer Appreciation Brunch at Acapulco Restaurant in Long Beach on April 22, 2012

be a community involvement,” Leyn said. “The community is trying to get involved, and we offer that resource for them to come and help us. It’s

really a two-way street. They help out, and they get to learn a lot about what we do and what’s going on in the city. So, it’s a win-win for everybody.”

MORE INFORMATION (562) 989-7222 EXT. 73

Courtesy City of SH

Signal Hill Police Department volunteers Jean Chu and Mercedes Pacheco in their official uniforms

Matt Sun/Signal Tribune

A bulletin board in the existing Signal Hill police station honoring the department’s volunteers

Congratulations to the new building for the signal hill pd! ank you for your diligent service in protecting our wonderful city.

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JANUARY 25, 2013

A tour of the newly built Signal Hill Police Station

Photos by Matt Sun

Patrol operations office

From our home to yours! The lobby of the station

Congratulations to Signal Hill’s Police family from the Strichart/Grommé family!

Enjoy your new home!

Neena Strichart

• Publisher— Signal Tribune

Steve Strichart

• Associate Publisher— Signal Tribune • Signal Hill Civil Service Commissioner

Marjorie (Posner) Grommé • Treasurer—City of Signal Hill, 1975

Corridor between offices

On behalf of the Signal Hill Chamber of Commerce...

Congratulations Chief langston, fellow officers and staff on your new police station.

Congratulations to Chief langston & the entire sh police department on the opening of the new signal hill police station! “Keeping our City Safe” —Thank you Don’t rob a bank or deal drugs

Don’t drive impaired or hang with thugs Don’t rob or burgle or beat your wife Don’t carry a concealed gun or knife

Don’t pilfer goods or tamper with mail Or you’ll end up in our new jail!

thank you. we appreciate your support and doing such a fine job for our city.

Proud member of the Signal Hill Police Dept. Meritorious Service Committee 2012-2014 & Past President of the Signal Hill Chamber of Commerce, 2010

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JANUARY 25, 2013


Armory storage room

Space-saving file storage system that services the records bureau

Gary Dudley & Jane Fallon

extend our congratulations to the City of Signal Hill on the completion of their new State-of-the-Art "Green Police Station"



Drought-tolerant landscaping

Congratulations to the City of Signal Hill Police Department for making the dream of a new police station come true.


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The Burlesons congratulate the Police Department and the City of Signal Hill on a job well done!

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JANUARY 25, 2013







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JANUARY 25, 2013



What a difference a new station makes


Photos by Matt Sun

Before– Records bureau

After– Records bureau

Before– Communications Command Center

After– Communications Command Center

Before– Police chief’s office

After– Police chief’s office

Before– Police station exterior

After– Police station exterior


SHPD section_Layout 1 1/25/13 12:32 PM Page 20









Your Weekly Community Newspaper

the staff at the signal tribune salutes the City of signal hill on their newest addition: a state-of-the-art police station and Emergency operations Center!

we wish our officers comfort, safety and good health!

939 E. 27th StREET

Signal Hill / 562-595-7900

We congratulate the City of Signal Hill on your new police station!


Comments from the Construction Manager

By Paul Buckley, P.E. Simplus Management Corp.

I just want to let readers know how supportive the entire City staff has been on this project. The success of this project required the support of individuals from every City department. However, I would also like to acknowledge just how supportive and instrumental Charlie Honeycutt, Chief Michael Langston and Captain Ron Mark have been to the successful completion of this project. In order to explain just how special these three individuals are, I have to give you some project background. Simplus Management Corporation (Simplus) was hired by the City of Signal Hill to provide Project and Construction Management Services for the new Signal Hill Police Station project in 2007. Simplus managed the design team through the preparation of construction documents and managed the general contractor through construction of the facility. Simplus’s role during the construction phase was to make sure the new police station was constructed as detailed in the plans and specifications. Every project has its own set of design and construction issues that the owner and construction management team have to work through. However, this project was very challenging and unique due to the nature and complexity of this facility and the fact that the original general contractor defaulted on the contract when the project was approximately 40 percent complete. To give you some perspective, this is only the second time in my career that the general contractor has defaulted on one of my projects. The default added an entire set of new legal challenges and issues as well as a bonding company, new general contractor and new subcontractors to deal with. I can honestly say that in all my career, I have never had the involvement and support of the owner at such a high level than on this project. Deputy City Manager Charlie Honeycutt has been intimately involved in every design and construction decision of this project. He attended 99 percent of all design and construction coordination meetings and completely supported the decisions of the construction management team when challenged by the contractor. Charlie Honeycutt was also extremely fair with the general contractor and subcontractors by processing progress payments very quickly and processing change orders only when they had merit. Charlie was responsible for orchestrating and coordinating all critical issues with other City departments. Police Chief Michael Langston came on board after the design was complete but completely took ownership of the design and supported the construction management team during construction. Besides running the police department, he attended a high percentage of construction coordination meetings and provided leadership on critical police department issues. He also supported the contractors by making sure the site was secure. During this project there were numerous break-ins and thefts, but his officers were able to catch the thieves and recover stolen property. But the Chief’s biggest show of support for the project was assigning Captain Ron Mark to the team. Captain Ron Mark was an invaluable part of the construction management team. He attended 99 percent of all construction coordination meetings and provided valuable input on police department policies, procedures and operational matters. He was instrumental in making sure the site was secured, especially after the original general contractor defaulted. While acknowledging those individuals that were directly involved with the construction management team in the field, I would be remiss in not acknowledging all the City Council members, the City Manager Ken Farfsing and City Attorney [David Aleshire], who worked hard behind the scenes to support this complex project and took time out of their busy schedules to visit and tour the site at various stages of construction. Without them, this project would only still be a dream.


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JANUARY 25, 2013



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JANUARY 25, 2013

Signal Hill Police Department looks forward to new era for local public safety Sean Belk


Staff Writer

n many ways, the Signal Hill Police Department’s new state-of-the-art 21,500-square-foot police station marks a new era for local public safety. As the City continues to grow, so too have the needs of the police department, which is required to meet new emergencyresponse standards and upgrade to high-tech communication systems. Signal Hill Police Chief Michael Langston said the added space for the police department’s more than 50-member staff and modern building features now boosts the department’s capabilities. The new station, he said, will be one of the newest police facilities in the region and a model for the latest police technology. “There’s a lot of new technology in the building that will help us to be more efficient and a little more effective than we are today,” Langston said. Some of the building’s new features include: a modernized jail facility with eight cells, which are controlled by a digital “touch screen” and meet the latest California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation standards; ergonomic workstations for police staff to sit or stand during long shifts; video-conferencing capabilities for inmates to talk with family members or attorneys from the lobby; “hard” and “soft” interviewing rooms; collapsible file-storage for the records bureau; a fitness room; sleeping quarters; and outlets in each locker for patrol

officers to recharge electronic devices. The new police station also meets today’s “central services” standards, Langston said, adding that the new facility was built to withstand major earthquakes, floods, winds or any other natural disasters. In addition, the new building was designed with environmentally friendly features, including solar panels on top of the station’s vehicle port, natural lighting throughout the building and drought-tolerant landscaping with a water-treating “bio-swale” system. Langston said nearby jurisdictions looking to upgrade police facilities, such as the Long Beach Police Department, will benefit from seeing the design of such a modern police station. “I think we all benefit from a new building in that I’m sure there will be other departments coming here to look and see what this department has done,” he said. “I think it’s a state-of-the-art facility and certainly something for all of us to be proud of.” Langston said one of the goals of building an expanded emergency-operations center (EOC) in the new police facility was to

provide a “focal point” for community gatherings for local organizations and emergency-response operations for nearby jurisdictions, including the Los Angeles County Fire Department, which contracts with Signal Hill. “We have a vision that the new police facility is really going to serve as a ‘community’ police station and, hopefully, people will feel comfortable coming here,” he said. “We have a good relationship with the community, and this facility will help us to improve that.” Signal Hill Deputy City Manager Charlie Honeycutt added that keeping the City safe will continue to be a top goal, and the new facility will only enhance the community’s relationship with the police department. “What we’ve always seen is the City has made the police department a high priority,” he said. “If you talk to residents and businesses, the police department has been held in high regard in the community… And, 50 years from now, if the City has a lot of growth, this building has been designed to expand.”

Congratulations on your new home,

S.H. Police Department! from

1640 E. Burnett St.

The Emergency Operations Center in the new Signal Hill police station

Matt Sun/Signal Tribune

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JANUARY 25, 2013



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JANUARY 25, 2013


The City of Signal Hill congratulates the men and women of the Signal Hill Police Department on the opening of your new police station.

Thank you for your dedicated service to the community.


SHPD Special Section  
SHPD Special Section  

Special Section SHPD