The City Council on Monday approved the city’s Capital Improvement Program Budget, but called on City Manager Steve Mermell and Police Chief John Perez to provide a detailed explanation to the Public Safety Committee regarding the police department’s related CIP budget appropriations.
The budget includes $1 million for renovations of the city’s police department headquarters and $2.2 million for a mobile command center truck.
According to a previous Planning Commission staff report the truck includes better video downlink capabilities from the police helicopter camera and other aerial platforms to the MCC.
About $900,000 of the funding for these projects comes from asset forfeiture.
“What we have seen is there are many instances where it will help the city to be able to operate in a remote fashion,” said City Manager Steve Mermell.
Mermell said the vehicle would be ideal in a natural disaster, an earthquake or at the scene of a fire or other calamity.
“It’s very beneficial to have remote access and the ability to operate. The federal government uses similar equipment at the Rose Parade every year,” he said. “It is something I think a city of this size and this complexity, with all the events we have at the Rose Bowl, with all the events we have in the city we can benefit from.”
Critics of the expenditure called for the money to be spent elsewhere.
“In better times, perhaps these expenditures could be considered. But we have just endured a prolonged pandemic and are just now emerging from it,” said Sonja K. Berndt. “Families and businesses are burdened with substantial debt. Many of our residents have lost jobs, and/or are housing insecure and fear eviction. We have an affordable housing shortage that is beyond critical. And tragically, we have hundreds of persons experiencing homelessness who sleep on the streets every night. Instead of renovating the Police Department Building at this time, we should be using our General Fund to address all of these crises in the coming fiscal year and beyond.”
The police headquarters building would be renovated in three phases starting with improvements on the second floor to include creating a more open floor plan, painting, and flooring.
A new kitchen is being added to the Large Assembly Room on the second floor, and computers and the elevator will be upgraded.
Phase II will cover renovating the first floor, including upgrading the flooring, replacing ceiling tiles, and painting. New computers and furniture for the first floor will also be procured.
The first floor houses the Records, Community Services, Traffic, Neighborhood Services, and Patrol Divisions.
Phase III will involve renovations on the third floor and the basement. The improvements necessary include upgrading the break room and kitchen for the Dispatch office and installing new furniture, painting, and ceiling tile replacement.
The break room at the basement will also be renovated, according to the report.