With the turn of a shovel, construction began Thursday on a three- story, 51,000-square-foot police headquarters building at the Port of Los Angeles.
The facility, set to open in 2010, will be equipped with new surveillance and dispatch centers, underground parking and a rooftop tactical training area that can double as a firing range.
"We want to be good neighbors to our port stakeholder partners, our surrounding communities and to all those who visit the port," Los Angeles Port Police Chief Ronald Boyd said during a groundbreaking ceremony near the intersection of Centre and Fifth streets.
The Board of Harbor Commissioners in February approved a $47 million contract with Irvine-based FTR International to build the new port police headquarters building.
Port officials say the facility also will be equipped with solar panels, energy-saving lights and water-saving plumbing fixtures, all aimed at meeting the gold standard set by the U.S. Building Council.
"The new port police headquarters underscores our commitment to ensuring that our safety and security assets here at the Port of Los Angeles are the gold standard in the global maritime industry," said Geraldine Knatz, executive director of the port.
For now, the port's 125 police officers and 84 civilian employees work in cramped quarters designed to hold only 30 people inside the harbor administration building.
Port officials hope to expand the police force to more than 200 sworn officers and 161 civilian employees by mid-2009 as part of an aggressive recruitment campaign.
"Our port police officers will soon have access to the state-of- the-art tools necessary to protect our port from security risks," said Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn, whose 15th District includes the port.
"This new headquarters is also needed to enable our expanded port police force to do its job."