Police Services relocation in early stages

District allocates $4 million for new police headquarters at CCC, Los Medanos College

By Lorenzo Morotti, Editor-in-Chief

By Lorenzo Morotti


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Police Services will have a permanent facility on campus instead of the portable it has used to store equipment, dispatch officers and detain campus criminals since 2005.

Contra Costa Community College District Facilities and Projects Manager Ray Pyle said the first meeting to discuss the rough design, budget and location of the new Police Services Building was held at Contra Costa College on Oct. 1.

Chief of Police Services Charles Gibson said CCC and Los Medanos College are the two colleges in the district that are overdue for new Police Services facilities.

District Chancellor Helen Benjamin said she has been involved in pushing the project at the district level since Gibson began reporting to her two years ago. Dr. Benjamin said the district was able to funnel funding toward the project in June 2014.

Pyle said the new facilities are still in the early stages of design and the project does not have a construction start date.

He said, however, the project has been allocated $4 million in funding from Measure E, a $360 million bond to be used for priority infrastructure projects, which will be split between LMC and CCC.

Pyle said he met with Police Services Lt. Jose Oliveira, Gibson and CCC President Denise Noldon to decide where the possible site of the Police Services Building should be located on campus.

At the meeting, Dr. Noldon said they decided that the best place for a new facility is where the Tennis Courts are currently located, adjacent to Comet Stadium.

Noldon said, “No formal decision was made. We are in preliminary discussions about what our interests are, but if we put the project on the table early we can meet as many of those interests as possible.

“We want (the new Police Services facility) to be in a location where it provides easy access for officers and students at a centralized location on campus,” she said.

Gibson said  visibility and quick access to the rest of the campus were two major factors in deciding where to place the new facility.

He said, “Because it is located in the back of the campus, most (students) don’t know it exists.”

Police Services used to be more centralized on campus when it was located in the now demolished Student Activities Building, Oliveira said.

Thornton Thomasetti, Inc., a design, investigation and analysis consultant hired by the district in 2010, measured the total assigned space in the portable co-habited by Police Services and Buildings and Grounds at 3,035 square feet.

Building and Grounds Manager Bruce King and staff have shared a portable with Police Services since it was relocated from behind the SA building. The portable was built in 1967.

King said Police Services has about 1,560 square feet of work and storage space. Gibson said in order for the officers to do their jobs more efficiently they would need at least 2,000 square feet.

Oliveira said while the proposed location of the facility at the Tennis Courts hopes to deter crime near the Bus Transfer Center, which has a history of being a hot spot for robberies and assaults, the campus will be more safe generally because officers will have a better work environment.

“The real benefit would be the extra work space to meet the needs of employees to carry out their mission,” Oliveira said.

After touring all three existing facilities, including the new Diablo Valley College Police Services Building, Benjamin said it became obvious that LMC and CCC are in dire need of new facilities.

She said the workspace provided to officers in the current Police Services portable is “cramped” and hinders being able to do their jobs properly.

Oliveira agrees with Benjamin. He said the biggest drawback of the current Police Services portable is the lack of space.

In addition, the current portable Police Services building only has one holding cell that can detain up to three criminals at once on a single bench and is without an interview room.

The current portable also lacks a rest room for detainees or officers’ use. Oliveira said, “If (detainees) have to use the (restroom), we have to parade them through the hallways of the Applied Arts Building and that can be a shady situation.”

Gibson said having a new facility will also boost the morale of officers who patrol the campus daily.

“Instead of (the officers) thinking another day at the dungeon, they will be able to go to this new facility and feel good about their job,” Gibson said. “But it’s a challenge constructing any building at CCC because of the earthquake fault.”

Erecting any building at CCC poses more of a challenge than any other college within the district due to the campus having to adhere to the Alquist-Priolo Earthquake Fault Zoning Act of 1972.

The act states that any construction plans within 2,000 feet of any earthquake fault must undergo trenching and surveillance before the project can move forward.

The Hayward Fault, the most likely fault in the Bay Area to cause the next earthquake according to studies done by the United States Geological Survey, intersects the campus at the Bus Transfer Center, Lot 1 and Lot 5 before crossing Castro Road and into the Parking Annex.

According to a fault map created by Kleinfelder Inc., an engineering, architecture and science-consulting firm, the proposed site of the new building is 350 feet away from the western fault trace.

Pyle said trenches have to be dug to evaluate the stability of the soil below.

Thronton-Tomasetti created a CCC Seismic Risk Mitigation Implementation Plan to help the district bring older buildings on campus into compliance with the Alquist-Priolo Act.

The report categorizes buildings on campus by its structural deficiencies and how well it may hold during a major earthquake on a seismic risk scale that peaks at level VII.

For a public institution that rests near a major fault, levels I to III are acceptable, while a seismic risk level of IV is questionable and anything higher is unacceptable.

In 2012 the plan was updated and the portable shared by Buildings and Grounds, Police Services and Receiving was deemed as a seismic risk level IV.