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Police Storefront Grand Opening Caps Off Annual Moorpark Parade


Flanked by 20 freshly minted volunteers dressed in white polo shirts, Ventura County Sheriff Larry Carpenter and Mayor Paul Lawrason helped cut a ribbon Saturday morning to open a downtown police storefront in Moorpark.

The grand opening capped the 24th annual Moorpark Country Days Parade, which attracted more than 5,000 people, parade organizers said. There were more than 75 parade entries, including the Moorpark and Simi Valley high school bands.

"It was a pretty good parade this year," said David Cruz, 78, who has lived in the city for 40 years. "They had a lot more bands than last year."

Perched on the back of a pickup truck parked off of Moorpark Avenue, Cruz had a front-row seat for the parade, and planned to check out the new police storefront when the last float went by.

"A lot of people volunteered to work there," he said. "That's real nice."

The parade route snaked through town on a mile-long route that passed in front of the new station at the corner of Moorpark Avenue and High Street.

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Carpenter--in boots, a cowboy hat, a vest and a holstered gun--welcomed the crowd of about 100 residents to the event.

"This (station) does not represent your government, it represents your community," he said. "A community that cares about their quality of life."

Volunteers will keep the station open 25 hours per week, answering questions about law enforcement and passing out crime prevention information.

Deputies from the Sheriff's Department's Moorpark Enforcement Division plan to periodically use the small office to file police reports and interview suspects and witnesses to crimes.

Most of the city-owned building, which was vacant for more than three years, will be used by a private company under contract with the city to do building and safety inspections. The station will be open from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The volunteers at the ceremony were eager to start their crime-stopping duties, but a few were a little nervous. Jonas Casas, 26, is scheduled for the first shift on Monday, along with two other residents.

"I'm going to have to wing it," he said. "I haven't read the manual yet. I'm afraid someone's going to ask me something and I'm not going to know what to tell them."

The volunteers were trained during a three-hour session on crime-prevention techniques and dealing with the public on police matters.

Senior Deputy Ed Tumbleson, who along with Deputy Jody Keller is helping to organize the station, said he did not expect a rush of people to use the station. Moorpark has the lowest crime rate of any Ventura County city, Tumbleson said.

"I'm telling (the volunteers) to bring a book," he said.

He is encouraging the volunteers to walk through the downtown and meet people while in their uniforms.

"This is really about making contact with people," he said.

Volunteer Jane Lavalle, who drives a school bus, said the contact with the people is what attracted her to the job.

"I'm good at that," she said. "I'm comfortable talking with people, and I think this is a positive thing. Being there to talk with people and help them out tells people that not all policemen are bad."

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