H-SANTA MARIA

Mar 22, 2013 7:03 PM by Connie Tran, KSBY News

Santa Maria Police Chief gives first tour of new building where PD plans to move

A big move is in the works for the Santa Maria Police Department. It plans to move its headquarters at the current location on 222 Cook St. to a bigger, more state-of-the-art location off of Betteravia Road. On Friday morning, Police Chief Ralph Martin gave KSBY News the very first media tour of the new building, as it undergoes a multi-million dollar retrofit.

Martin said the new building is around 74,000 square feet, nearly three times larger than the location the department is in now.

"We're not expected to move in for about another 12 months," said Martin.

Martin explained that there is plenty of work to be done to the building within the next year, including making sure the structure is up to par with seismic specifications.

"In May, we're going to replace the roof, and put in new heating and air conditioning units up on top, and then, they're gonna come in and start re-doing the structure inside," said Martin.

The structure used to be owned by Lockheed Martin, and Martin said the City of Santa Maria bought it a few years ago. He said the large facility is the perfect match for the growing police department. Martin said the current building, though it has its charm, is simply too small for a police force that serves the largest city on the Central Coast.

"Well the building we're in now was built in the 50s, so it was designed to have about 40 people. We now have 160 personnel there," said Martin.

On top of plenty of space, the chief said the building will be technologically advanced.

He said, "We're also gonna see some state-of-the-art crime lab facility inside here."

Police officers and personnel will also see an indoor shooting range, larger locker rooms, and more space to interview victims and suspects. But, Martin explained, the move to the larger facility isn't just a logical change, it can be perceived as an emotional one too.

"Think about what the department's been through just in the past few years, and just as a psychological change, it'd be great to get into a brand new building and kinda start all over again," said Martin.

Martin said the retrofit will cost the city nearly $7 million. The Santa Maria City Council voted 4 to 1 in March 2012 to approve the remodel. Former councilman Mike Cordero voted against it, saying the city needs more officers, not a new building.

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