LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Police Department have opened its new $84 million, 172,000-square-foot jail.
The Metropolitan Detention Center, located downtown at Temple and Los Angeles streets, has been empty for nearly two years due to staffing shortages. Construction was completed on the facility in May 2009.
A citywide hiring freeze kept the police department from hiring the appropriate number of personnel for the facility, which necessitates a much larger staff than the old Parker Center jail, which is much smaller.
After repeated attempts to get a hiring exception from city officials, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck announced last October that he would open the detention center and staff it by taking 90 police officers off patrol assignments. Those officers are currently receiving training and are expected to remain at the jail for six months, after which another group of officers will be cycled in to replace them.
Civilian detention officers usually staff LAPD jails, so Beck’s decision to staff the new facility with patrol officers has been criticized as a waste of officer training and a hit to public safety. Beck, however, said that he could not afford to wait any longer to close the old jail.
The department also closed four of its smaller jails to free up enough detention officers to fully staff the metropolitan center.
The transfer of a few dozen inmates from the Parker Center jail to the new detention center went smoothly, according to Assistant Chief Michel Moore.