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LAPD opens new station in Canoga Park

Its 265 officers will serve the southwest San Fernando Valley. The department also celebrates its 140th anniversary.

January 04, 2009|Ruben Vives

There was a lot to cheer about Saturday in Canoga Park.

The Los Angeles Police Department celebrated the opening of its 21st police station and launched the commemoration of the department's 140th anniversary.

Although the station is in Canoga Park, near the intersection of Schoenborn Street and Canoga Avenue, a panel of city leaders chose to name it the Topanga station in recognition of the Gabrielino-Tongva Indian tribe, which once inhabited the San Fernando Valley.

The station was going to be named the Northwest station but officials changed it after community members indicated that they wanted to honor the region's history, said Councilman Dennis Zine, whose district includes the area.

The 54,000-square-foot station was built at a cost of $36 million; the funds came from Proposition Q, a public safety facilities bond measure approved by voters in March 2002. Officials said the structure incorporates energy-saving light fixtures and other "green" features, including an efficient irrigation system.

About 265 officers assigned to the Topanga station will patrol the southwest portion of the San Fernando Valley, which includes Canoga Park, Winnetka, West Hills and Woodland Hills. The area has a combined population of 190,000, more than the cities of Green Bay, Wis.; Salt Lake City; or Topeka, Kan.

At least 40 volunteers also will help the station's officers, assisting in administrative and other duties, said the station's commander, Capt. John Sherman.

"We are starting a police-community partnership," Sherman said during a welcoming speech. "This is your police station."

Police Chief William J. Bratton, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and several council members were among the 1,500 people in attendance.

After the station ribbon-cutting ceremony, officials cut a cake to honor the LAPD's anniversary.

Throughout the afternoon, residents arrived at the station for an open house. Local restaurants provided food at stations set up in the parking lot.

Police vehicles were on display, and some officers mingled with visitors. Canoga Park High School band members played and later danced to the music of a disc jockey.

Residents expressed relief that the station was open, saying they thought that it would help reduce crime in the area.

Bill Martinez of Canoga Park said the Topanga station was a beneficial use of taxpayer money.

"This is a good thing; this is a troubled spot. It will help reduce violence," he said.

Martinez also said officers' response time should improve.

"Before, when you called police, it sometimes took them forever to get there," he said. "Most times the incident was well over by the time they had arrived."

"This side of the Valley needed it. This area is in the middle of a gang injunction of the Canoga Park Alabama gang," said Lt. Stephen M. Carmona of the new Topanga Area Gang Impact Team.

Salvador Lopez, 60, also of Canoga Park, said he couldn't wait for the officers to start patrolling the area.

"This is going to be good for the community and for the city," he said.

His wife, Gloria, agreed. "We're happy this station is here," she said.

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ruben.vives@latimes.com

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