How is it that Los Altos has a very professional, very effective 21st-century police department operating out of a 1960s building?

The first priority and highest responsibility for any city council is public safety. That means – first and foremost – strong, well-supported professional police and fire services. I would suggest that it is past due for the Los Altos City Council to begin planning for the funding and construction of a new, modern police building.

I’m rather puzzled by the notion that somehow we should proceed to fund and build an Emergency Operations Center that is a satellite building located somewhere in the general vicinity of the current decaying police building. That makes no sense and is not cost-effective.

I think a survey would reveal that any up-to-date, modern police building is going to have an Emergency Operations Center situated within the police headquarters. Los Altos should be planning to do the same.

Just north of us, Atherton and Palo Alto have recognized that they had decrepit, hopelessly out-of-date and unsafe police buildings (like Los Altos). Both are doing something about it. Atherton is building a new town center (on a scale similar to what we’re doing at Hillview) and had the prescience to include new police facilities in that project. And Palo Alto has just approved moving forward on a new police headquarters. To the south, Mountain View and Santa Clara replaced their antiquated 1960s-era police facilities long ago.

Los Altos needs to get with it. To continue to attract and retain high-quality career professional peace officers and to give them the tools needed to do their job, we need to provide a much better and safer police facility.

John Fennell is a Los Altos resident and former member of the city’s Citizens’ Police Task Force.