On Thursday, August 8, Mayor London N. Breed joined City officials and community leaders for the groundbreaking of a new San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) facility in the Bayview. The new facility will house SFPD’s Forensic Services Division and the City’s Traffic Company, or motorcycle police.
Located at 1995 Evans Ave., the 100,000-square-foot building will bring two Forensic Services Division laboratories—currently located in separate outdated facilities—into a single seismically safe property. The new facility will be constructed to remain operational for up to 72 hours after a major earthquake or other disaster. Its resilient design will ensure the safety of first responders and residents when a disaster strikes.
“The Police Department’s Traffic Company and Forensic Services Division are an important part of our City’s emergency response plan, and it’s critical that they are located in a seismically-safe building so that they can continue to serve the community in the hours and days after an earthquake or other emergency,” said Mayor Breed. “This project is a great use of Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response Bond funds and will make our City more resilient.”
The Traffic Company and several Forensic Services Division facilities are currently located in the 1960s-era Hall of Justice at 850 Bryant St., which is not seismically safe. Additional Forensic Services Division facilities, including the forensic laboratory, are located at the Hunters Point Shipyard in a building that is scheduled for demolition to make way for a new residential development.
“Each day, our Traffic Company plays a key role in preventing and investigating traffic collision injuries and fatalities. Our forensic lab is critical to our ability to investigate crimes,” said San Francisco Police Chief William Scott. “The development of a new, seismically safe and easily accessible facility will help us continue to respond quickly to the needs of San Francisco, provide uninterrupted service during a disaster and enable a rapid recovery for our City.”
The Traffic Company and Forensic Services Division facility will be equipped with multiple laboratory spaces, a secure room to store evidence, a firearm testing facility, a briefing room and several conference and office spaces. There also will be space allocated for SFPD motorcycle parking.
“I’m excited to see the third City-funded major capital infrastructure project to be built in District 10,” said District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton, who represents the Bayview neighborhood. “This facility will play a major role in earthquake and disaster response in addition to daily responses.”
The new building will help improve efficiency for the Forensic Services Division’s personnel, who collect, analyze and compare physical evidence crime scenes. The Division is comprised of the Crime Scene Investigation unit, computer forensics, the identification bureau, a photo laboratory, and a crime laboratory. Bringing the division under one roof will enhance the processing of cases and allow the Division to share important data more easily.
The building will also house the SFPD’s Traffic Company, which handles crowd control, traffic violation enforcement, vehicle inspections, red-light camera citations, and other traffic support and enforcement tasks. Following the completion of the building, the SFPD’s motorcycles will be accessible in the event of an earthquake. Access to the motorcycle fleet is an important element of the City’s emergency response plan because motorcycles are able to maneuver city streets more easily than squad cars or SUVs, especially if streets are damaged or covered in debris following an earthquake.
“The Traffic Company and Forensic Services Division groundbreaking is a key milestone of the City’s Ten-Year Capital Plan, which identifies and funds capital projects while ensuring the tax rate does not rise,” said City Administrator Naomi M. Kelly. “Smart fiscal planning now will better protect San Franciscans in the event of a major disaster.”
San Francisco Public Works is managing the project for the Police Department and has partnered with HOK Architects, in association with MEI Architects, on its design. Clark Construction is the general contractor for the project. The facility is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2021.
“Public Works is proud to be managing construction for this new, essential piece of capital infrastructure for the City,” said San Francisco Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru. “We are excited to work closely with our private partners to bring this facility to completion in a timely and fiscally responsible manner.”
The Traffic Company and Forensic Services Division Facility project is funded by the Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response (ESER) Bond Program, an initiative to strengthen earthquake safety and emergency response resiliency through capital improvements on critical infrastructure, including police and fire facilities, and the Emergency Firefighting Water System. San Francisco voters overwhelmingly approved the first two phases of the ESER Bond Program in 2010 and 2014, each receiving nearly 80 percent approval.
The Board of Supervisors voted to place the third installment of the ESER Bond Program—a $628.5 million bond proposal—on the March 2020 ballot for voter consideration.
More information on the ESER Bond Program and the Traffic Company and Forensic Services Division Facility can be found at www.sfearthquakesafety.org.