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SCV Sheriff's Station grows to fit time's needs

Station historian looks back

Posted: May 11, 2008 4:42 p.m.
Updated: July 12, 2008 5:04 a.m.

Estelle Foley has been the official historian of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station since 1995.

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The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station opened its doors on May 8, 1972, with Sheriff Coffeen officiating at the ceremony. Explorer Scouts conducted tours of the station and included demonstrations of computerized and expanded traffic record systems. Copies of historic dockets and cases dating back to the early 1900s were on display.

Now here we are in 2008, still in the same building. Though the laws and method of operations have changed to fit our current everyday problems and rising crime, our deputies are better trained and equipped to handle whatever comes their way.

As the official historian for the station since 1995 and a volunteer since Oct. 23, 1983, I have seen many changes throughout the years - some of which I created.

The Santa Clarita Sheriff's Station Historical Hall of Fame was introduced in 1996 to gather, preserve and make available information about people, places and events in the past that have shaped the community in the present.

The archives collection is housed in our station and includes a vast array of unique historical material such as photographs, historical narratives, books, and memorabilia from the Old Gorman Post Sub-Station. It is an extensive collection on Santa Clarita's former sheriff's captains from the early 1940s and topics pertaining to the community's sworn officers.

First jail
Included is the first jail in Old Newhall built in Dec. 22, 1905, and which still stands with iron bars on the windows and the original floors and 4-inch-thick walls. The building has survived many earthquakes throughout the years.

Architectural plans called for construction of a concrete building with a door covered with heavy screens and white-washed interior walls.

The total cost of building the jail was $236.25. The building was appraised for the first time in 1929 at a sum of $2,000.

The first Sheriff's Station was located at 24238 North San Fernando Road, established on Aug. 26, 1926. The station's area of service included the Santa Susana Mountains, Kern County Line on the north and Los Angeles city limits to the south, a total of 128 miles. Lopez and Kagel canyon were part of the areas served.

Services offered were criminal investigation and criminal prevention. Personnel included one captain, two sergeants, eight deputies and one secretary.

Their equipment consisted of one radio car, one extra car, two teletypes and a telephone. The jail had two cells and trusty quarters.

The number of cases handled for the fiscal year beginning July 1939 was 548.

What a difference 68 years has made. Were these the good years?

In our station hallways there are many group photos of our deputies for the years 1932, 1944 and most years up to the present. You might even recognize some of your family and friends.

In 1950 the Ralphs family built a house for resident deputies in the Gorman area with a detached office, jail and two-car garage. The structure still stands but hasn't been used as a substation since 1993.

Deputy Fred Sibley was the first resident in the new house. There have been about 25 deputies who have patrolled the Gorman area from early 1945 to 2008. Richard Browning patrolled the area in 1945 and Frank DeBernardi spent 10 years patrolling Gorman beginning in 1952. Now we have Jerry Newbold and John De Young on the beat.

Outgrown years ago
The present station was outgrown many years ago. Everyone sits in cramped offices, and I have seen deputies circle the block hoping to find a parking space, to no avail. More people moving into our beautiful valley increase the need for more deputies, which also increases the need for more vehicle parking. Even with these problems our deputies continue to patrol and protect over and beyond without complaints.

In 1995, when I began the Historical Hall of Fame, the white walls in the station were obscenely empty and boring. At that time Mike Quinn, a great person and well liked by everyone, was our station commander. I spoke to him about doing something to the walls to bring warmth and character to them. I explained my ideas, and he told me to go forward and conquer. My plan was to enhance the image of the station and our Sheriff's Department.

I've always enjoyed reading and had no idea that the history of the Sheriff's Department would be one of the greatest educations of my life. The researching is the greatest part of any historical project. This is where one begins to find out what it is all about.

158 years of history
There is now a new look in our station. In a collection of historical photos lies a labyrinth of displays representing a time capsule of law enforcement - 158 years of history.

Without the contributions of the men and women whom you will see in the hall pictures, there wouldn't have been law enforcement as we know it today.

These are the sheriff's personnel who, years ago, had the foresight and fortitude to pave the way with ideas that helped to forge the law of the land. From this, law enforcement began. From 1850 to 2008 - and the Sheriff's Department is still one of the largest and recognized agencies in our country.

Congratulations to the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station on its 36th anniversary and to our sheriff's officials who make it possible for all of us to live in a safe community.

Estelle Foley is a Santa Clarita resident. Her column reflects her own views, not necessarily those of The Signal.

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