LONG BEACH — A project that has been in the works for years is tantalizingly close to completion, as city officials expect construction on the new Long Beach police station will wrap up in just a few weeks and be ready to open by the spring.
Long Beach City Administrator David Glasson said he is pretty confident that nearly all interior and exterior construction on the new police station, located at 104 3rd St. NW next to the Long Beach Train Depot, will be completed “around the end of this month.”
“There is still work to do outdoors, such as the driveway and work around the building that we need to do when it warms up and rains less,” Glasson said, adding that sidewalks and ramps will be formed and completed sometime in March and April. He doesn’t think that work involving asphalt will be able to take place until May at the earliest, however.
But Glasson said he hopes that the new police station will be far enough along to open for Long Beach Police Department officers and personnel to begin officially using in April. When they do, it will mark the end of the current police station, which for more than 35 years has been nestled in the heart of the city’s downtown.
The city is still exploring options of what to do with the building housing the current station once the new station is finished, Glasson said.
That station, which opened in 1985, was originally designed for just three officers and provided little space for evidence and records. The new station will provide enough space for up to 10 officers — more than the city employs right now — and for adequate evidence and records storage, among other amenities such as a bullet-resistant steel entry door.
Construction of the new station is possible because the Washington State Legislature awarded $700,000 to the city as part of the state capital budget in early 2019, after lobbying from then-State Sen. Dean Takko. Now two years later, the station is on the verge of completion.
Old station vandalized
Meanwhile, the current police station at the corner of Pacific Avenue and Third Street was vandalized the evening of Feb. 13 when Shaun Aaron Schlenker allegedly took a bat and broke out the windows.
As of Feb. 16, Schlenker remained in Pacific County Jail on charges of first and second degree malicious mischief, resisting arrest and attempting to intimidate a public servant. No bail amount had been set. Schlenker was already facing previous charges of two counts of criminal trespass 2nd-degree and obstructing law enforcement officer, with a tentative trial date of March 25.
LBPD calls decline in 2020Long Beach Police Department officers collectively responded to nearly 9,000 incidents in 2020, but the number was down from the previous year.
LBPD officers responded to 8,902 incidents in Long Beach and Ilwaco last year, a 9.9% decrease from 9,875 incidents in 2019. The year-over-year decline was led by a steep drop in traffic-related incidents. Officers gave just 655 traffic warnings in 2020 — less than two a day — compared to 1,031 warnings in 2019, a decrease of 37%.
The sizable decline in traffic incidents can likely be attributed to covid-19 precautions taken at the outset of the pandemic last March. With the pandemics just weeks old at the time, Long Beach Police Chief Flint Wright said his officers were instructed to avoid pulling people over for minor infractions, unless their actions are posing a danger to the public.
Calls to malicious mischief incidents were down 26% from 2019, from 42 to 31. Prowling incidents were down 39%, from 44 to 27, assaults were down 13%, from 112 to 97, and welfare checks were down 15%, from 259 to 219.
Calls responding to burglary incidents were up an alarming 53% compared to 2019, from 17 to 26. Other year-over-year increases included a 31% rise in calls related to drug investigations, from 51 to 67, a 22% increase in trespassing calls, from 127 to 155, and a 16% increase in calls responding to disturbances, from 322 to 373.