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LAPD Cost for Division: $35 Million : Police: Station would serve the northeast Valley. Councilman Alarcon wants to use federal crime bill money.

October 27, 1994|HUGO MARTIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A proposed new police division in the San Fernando Valley would cost $35 million to build and $10 million annually to operate, police officials said Wednesday.

No source of funding has been identified for the project, officials said.

Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon introduced a motion Wednesday to instruct the Police Department to consider adding a sixth Valley division as a way to focus more police attention on high-crime neighborhoods in the northeast Valley.

Although Alarcon's proposal does not say how the city would pay for the new division, he asked the Police Department to consider tapping funds provided by President Clinton's 1994 crime bill.

Police officials said they will study the bill as a funding source but only if the department and city officials determine that a new division is warranted.

Without funding from the bill, police are skeptical that the city can afford a new police division. "The city doesn't have anything," said Steve Hatfield, assistance commander of the department's police facilities construction group.

There are now 18 divisions in the Los Angeles Police Department, including five in the Valley. Alarcon proposes a division that would cover the communities of Panorama City and North Hills east of the San Diego Freeway, and Mission Hills and Arleta west of the Golden State Freeway.

He said he hopes a new division could concentrate on such high-crime areas as Orion Street in North Hills and Blythe Street in Panorama City, areas now situated on the borders of other Valley divisions.

"These are areas of concentrated crime," Alarcon said.

According to Hatfield, the cost of buying land, designing a new station and building the facility would range from $25 million to $30 million.

Although officers reassigned from adjacent divisions would make up the bulk of a new division's staff, the department would have to hire 40 to 50 new clerks, watch commanders and other support personnel, city officials said. Hatfield said police have estimated the cost of the additional staffing and facility maintenance at about $10 million annually.

Alarcon's proposal is not the first time city and police officials have considered adding a new Valley division.

In 1989, city officials put a $176-million bond measure before voters, promising it would help pay for new police facilities, including a new Valley division.

But Hatfield said all of the bond money has either been spent or is set aside for other projects, such as the construction of a new driver-training center, new parking lots and repairs at three existing stations.

In June of 1992, Chief Willie Williams instructed department officials to study the idea of adding two divisions, one in the northeast Valley and one near downtown Los Angeles.

Although the police study concluded there was sufficient need for the new divisions, the proposal died for lack of funding, said Capt. David R. Doan, commander of the department's planning and research division.

Williams rekindled the idea of adding new divisions in September as part of a plan to realign existing police divisions.

Doan said his department is expected to complete the latest study on adding new divisions by next week. If the study concludes that two new stations are warranted and the idea is backed by Williams, the Police Commission and the City Council, he said the department would then study ways of funding the new divisions.

But it is still unclear whether the city can rely on Clinton's crime bill. The anti-crime package signed into law last month sets aside $8.8 billion for hiring police--as many as 100,000 new officers during the next six years, according to supporters.

Peter DiCarlo, a city administrative analyst, said the city is waiting for the Department of Justice to draft regulations on how the money can be spent. That report is expected by early December, he said.

But DiCarlo said if the city decides to fund the new divisions with crime bill money, the city may end up scrambling for additional funds once the bill's six-year funding period expires.

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