The city of San Pablo is set to start construction on a new $44 million police headquarters and regional training center.
Police say the new facility is desperately-needed for San Pablo and the region, but some in the community are trying to stop what they’re calling a “cop campus.”
“The main goal is to reduce crime, and our community has been very vocal that public safety remains one of the top priorities of this community, and they believe the police department will serve that purpose,” said San Pablo Police Department Captain Brian Bubar.
He said the department has outgrown its current building and it’s not big enough for the current staff.
The new 42,000-square-foot facility will house all of San Pablo’s police personnel and will also feature a new state-of-the-art training center that will include a 20-lane indoor gun range and a virtual reality training room.
“Now more than ever we believe our officers need training. They’re making million dollar decisions in a split second,” said Bubar. “We actually think officers need more training, not less training, so we recognize this building as an opportunity to facilitate just that.”
But not everyone is on board. Protestors marched to the site over the weekend. They’ve formed a “Stop the Cop Campus” collective and say they’re just getting started.
“The idea was to just raise awareness around what’s going on and make a public stance that this does not make us feel safer,” said Danny Espinoza of Reimagine Contra Costa.
He helped plan the march and said there are far greater needs in San Pablo, where he grew up, like help rebounding from the pandemic.
“There are small businesses that suffered. There are folks that faced eviction, and with a population of over 60% Latino, a lot of working class folks, there are folks who still haven’t recovered,” said Espinoza.
“We hear you, we look forward to any opportunity to sit down and have dialogue and better understand your perspective and in doing so we hope to share the perspective of not only the Police Department, but our community,” said Bubar.
Bubar said the new facility will incorporate community partners and house a mental health crisis team. He says the majority of San Pablo residents support it.
It’s expected to be complete by February of 2025. But protesters say they’ll keep fighting.
Source: NBC Bay Area