LAPD Harbor Division jail in San Pedro

The new yet unused LAPD Harbor Division jail in San Pedro on Wednesday, February 20, 2019. The facility could hold 300 but without staffing it remains vacant and with a computer system that is now out of date and in need of upgrades. (Photo by Brittany Murray, Press-Telegram/SCNG)

LAPD’s Harbor Division jail will open at last — a decade after work on the then state-of-the-art facility was first completed.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s record-breaking, $10.6 billion budget, which passed Wednesday, May 23, includes funds for upgrading and staffing the jail in San Pedro.

With the facility shuttered, Harbor Division officers have long been forced to take those they arrested to the 77th LAPD Division for booking, removing patrol officers from the streets during the time it took to make those trips.

But with money in the budget for necessary upgrades, the facility is now targeted to open early next year.

“This is a landmark,” said Mona Sutton, a San Pedro business owner who heads up the Community-Police Advisory Board and helped lead the grassroots portion of the fight to open the jail. “Such a huge win for our community.

“It’s going to be a (police) force multiplier,” Sutton added.

The jail will also serve Wilmington, Harbor City and Harbor Gateway, all communities within the 15th City Council District represented by Councilman Joe Buscaino, a former LAPD officer.

Buscaino heaped praise on Sutton, the mayor and LAPD Chief Michel Moore.

“Thanks to Mayor Eric Garcetti, LAPD Chief Moore, and the great efforts of our community, especially the Community Police Advisory Board, led by Mona Sutton,” the councilman posted on his Facebook page, “the promise has been kept and the jail will now open.”

Built as part of the new Harbor Division Station at 2175 John S. Gibson Blvd. — construction lasted from 2008 to 10 — the 16,000 square-foot jail never received the funding for the personnel needed to open and staff it.

Required upgrades include cameras in the cells and mechanical repairs to sliding doors and walls.

Those will be completed first as jail staffing is readied for an opening.

Opening the jail, which holds 300 people, has often been brought up at community meetings and has been partly the subject of at least one community rally in recent years. A pledge in 2016 to open the jail by February 2019 — by former police Chief Charlie Beck, at a San Pedro crime forum — didn’t materialize due to funding.

When Moore took over earlier this year, he submitted the request for funding to open the jail.

Moore had included it in his department’s budget request and then Garcetti also included the $9.1 million item in his city budget plan, which the full council passed.

The budget, marking the first time the city’s spending plan exceeded $10 billion, will go into effect on July 1. The budget also includes the largest reserve fund in city history.

Buscaino’s office credited groups of residents who traveled to downtown to speak before committees weighing in on the budget with making the key difference.

Sutton said about 15 people spoke on two different occasions before committees in recent months in an effort to get the jail open.

“I’m so proud of the San Pedro and Harbor Area folks who answered the call to come and show up,” Sutton said. “They spoke from their hearts.”

City News Service contributed to this article.

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