Most Viewed Stories
Police facility makes official debut
Yuma police officers who work in the eastern part of the city will have more time to fight crime, and area residents will have a convenient location to request police services now that the department has officially opened the doors to its Araby substation.
Built on a five-acre lot at 6390 E. 26th St., adjacent to Yuma Fire Station 5, the 4,000-square-foot-plus building will not only improve response times in the area, it will also provide officers with a secure facility where they can write their reports and process evidence and arrestees, without having to go all the way to the headquarters building in town.
In addition to a public service counter and offices for staff, the new substation has a conference room that seats about 50 people, which the community and other civic organizations can reserve for their meetings.
The substation also provides a convenient location for the residents who live in the east part of the city to report certain non-violent crimes, get their fingerprints done, request reports, hold and attend community meetings and obtain other non-emergency police services.
"This first-ever police substation is an exciting and important milestone in the history of the Yuma Police Department that will allow us to provide an enhanced and more efficient police service to the community," said Yuma Police Chief John Lekan. "We had just grown to the point where we needed it."
Yuma Mayor Al Krieger called the new substation important to the growth of the city, saying he thinks the city will eventually grow together one day and not be so spread out.
"This forward-looking substation is going to serve those needs, and the city of Yuma is going to be ready for that growth in some many ways, with the infrastructure that has been built," Krieger said. "We are looking at down the road, over the horizon for the future of the for the city of Yuma. We are going to be ready for it and we are going to have the personnel the services and everything in place, ready to take care of a growing community the way we need to."
An official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new substation was held Wednesday afternoon with city council members Edward Thomas and Leslie McLendon, Deputy Police Chief Susan Otero and City Administrator Greg Wilkinson taking part as well. Also attending were officers and agents from various are law enforcement agencies, including the Yuma Sector Border Patrol, San Luis Police Department, Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Imperial County Sheriff’s Office.
Fittingly, instead of a ribbon, a strand of yellow police tape that had been strung across the building’s entrance was cut.
Thomas said he was very impressed with the new substation, adding it will keep officers assigned to the eastern portion of the city in their assigned areas, thereby establishing a greater presence to the area’s residents.
In his remarks, Lekan addressed the city’s growth over the years, not only in population but geographically, and the need for the substation. He said when the department opened its headquarters building at 1st Avenue and 16th Street in 1999, the department consisted of a staff of 180 employees, serving about 65,000 full-time residents, and responded to a service area of 34 square miles.
Today the police department, Lekan said, has 262 employees, serves a population of about 95,000 full-time residents and has a service area of about 119 square miles. Last year, Yuma police officers responded to over 75,000 calls for service.
Lekan said the plans to build the substation began to take shape more than three years ago when the YPD came to realize that the community had expanded to the east, and the need to maintain and enhance it services in the outlying areas was becoming increasingly more difficult.
"Needless to say, the growth has been significant over the past several years. This growth, combined with the increasing need to provide our eastern-area assigned officers with a secure location to conduct their daily duties while remaining in close proximity to their areas — along with providing a convenient location where area residents can obtain police services, host neighborhood events and conduct community meetings — established the basis that led to the planning and construction of this new substation."
Lekan said another reason the opening of the substation is so important is that it also represents the department’s re-emphasis on community-oriented policing and public outreach, the implementation of its newly formed crime suppression unit and resurrection of the once-popular bike patrol officers.
While the substation will only be open to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., it will typically have two to four officers operating out of it, depending on their shifts. A public support officer will be assigned to the station, as well as a civilian employee from the records department. Future plans include adding more officers and personnel as funding becomes available.
While the new substation will meet the needs of the residents in the eastern part of the city for many years to come, Lekan in the past has said that future plans call for opening other substations in other parts of the community.
James Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.