L.A. port police plan new station

Los Angeles Port Police are looking forward to construction starting later this year on a new $40 million headquarters building in San Pedro that they say will enable them to hire more officers.

Cmdr. Ralph Tracy said that the new station at Fifth and Centre streets will bring together different operations of the Port Police that are currently spread over several locations in San Pedro and Wilmington. The station will also offer more space than the first floor of the Harbor Administration building at Fifth and Palos Verdes streets, where much of the operations are currently housed.

"We have outgrown our facility and then some," Tracy said, "so this is really needed."

The state-of-the-art station will be approximately 50,000 square feet and on any given day will house about 120 administrators and officers, who have varying shifts. There are also plans for two public plazas of 10,000 and 12,700 square feet.

To have all the staff at one central location will "make the work environment better and increase productivity," the commander said.

It will be such an improvement that the Port Police will be hiring more officers.

According to Theresa Adams-Lopez, the port's director of media relations, the port has about 120 officers and would like to get to 200.

Tracy said that while the Port Police primarily work within the Port of Los Angeles - patrolling land, air and sea - they are also expanding their presence throughout the Harbor Area.

"Because of the community outreach we have, we're involved in several areas of the local community, in Wilmington and San Pedro," he said.

One example, he said, is making sure that trucks from the port stay out of residential neighborhoods.

The new station also will be "green," as the port is aiming for a gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating from the U.S. Green Building Council. The checklist for a gold rating for new construction includes provisions for water efficiency, construction pollution prevention, green power and use of regional or recycled materials.

"It's going to be energy efficient so it fits with the port's Clean Air \," Tracy explained, adding that it will be one of the first LEED-certified police stations in the state.

No date has been set for construction to start, but Tracy guessed that it would begin toward theof 2008. He said the port has just begun taking bids from construction companies.

Construction, including the new station and demolition of previous buildings, will cost approximately $40million to $45million. The Board of Harbor Commissioners approved an environmental impact report for the project in September 2005.

The site of the new Port Police station was part of a purchase made in October 2002 when the port spent $5.6million to buy a complex of office buildings from Evergreen International Shipping Co. The port designated one of the buildings for the Port of Los Angeles High School, while reserving other parts of the Evergreen complex for the new Port Police headquarters and a California Maritime Studies Center.

Adams-Lopez said an Evergreen office building and a bank that were on the site were demolished last summer to make way for the new Port Police station.

Tracy requested that residents "bear with the inconvenience" of construction.

"The local business community has come out strong in support of the police station," he said. "It's consistent with the revitalization of downtown."