Santa Clarita residents were invited to see beyond the front doors of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station without being put in cuffs on Thursday in partnership with the Valley Industry Association.
Attendees were broken into groups of approximately 15 and one by one took an extensive tour of the facility that opened its doors in October 2021.
“I’ve only been here a little over a year and the community outreach is just amazing,” said Lt. Dan Wolanski. “It’s different than anywhere else and we love that, we appreciate the community. We appreciate all you guys.”
Each group was led by a member of the SCV Sheriff’s Station. Attendees got to see and experience the majority of the aspects that go into the day-to-day operation of the station.
Neil Fisher, a volunteer with the SCV Sheriff’s Station Foundation, took the groups inside the SCV Sheriff’s Station Command Center vehicle to sit where SCV Sheriff’s Station personnel would sit and operate in response to larger incidents. A TV to watch news helicopter footage, plenty of chairs and tables inside to set up computers and an armory of weapons to use on a case-by-case basis were all detailed by Fisher.
Bearcats and motorbikes were lined up beside the command center vehicle. Attendees looked one by one as their tour guide explained all the scenarios in which each vehicle would be utilized.
The exclusive tour of the 46,552-square-foot station featured rooms such as the breakroom, briefing room, gym, report writing, the watch commander’s office, dispatch and even the jail and holding cells.
Deputy Keith Wells said that four inmates were present in the cells at the time of the VIA goup’s tour.
The tour and speeches at the end highlighted the gym as one of the SCV Sheriff’s Station Foundation’s biggest accomplishments and SCV Sheriff’s Station personnel thanked the foundation deeply.
“We raised funds for things that are not funded by the county of Los Angeles and the city of Santa Clarita,” said Gloria Mercado-Fortine, president of the SCV Sheriff’s Station Foundation. “We fill that gap.”
Sgt. Guillermo Martinez referenced another one of the foundation’s more recent efforts in writing a check for deputies with the motorcycle unit to receive Bluetooth headsets to better communicate with one another out in the field.
“As you guys can imagine around the current time, that morale is bad right now,” said Martinez. “Whenever we can give our deputy something as small as here, here’s a lunch for you guys, here’s a helmet, you can only imagine that’s helpful. It’s a job that nobody wants to do already.”
Mercado-Fortine said that the foundation is currently working to raise funds for fallen Deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer’s family.
Clinkunbroomer, a Santa Clarita Valley resident, was shot and killed while on duty in Palmdale on Sept. 16. The man accused of killing him, Kevin Cataneo Salazar, 29, was taken into custody after an hourslong standoff Sept. 18 and later pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to murder charges.
Canine colleagues and tools of the trade
Personnel with the K-9 unit held a live demonstration and presentation that exemplified the success the unit has had with their furry partners.
Deputy Jason Lasley and his canine Wyatt, a 6-year-old Golden retriever, have been a team since 2018. Wyatt works on over 100 searches of the North County Correction Facility per month, sniffing out drugs and jail-made alcohol fermented out of fruits and vegetables.
Lasley said that Wyatt has never been wrong.
“I feel like I have one of the best jobs in the county,” said Lasley.
Attendees were even able to get their hands on the trigger and shoot a less-than-lethal 44-millimeter launcher at paper targets.
These launchers are used in high-risk situations — for example suspects in close range with a weapon, and also can cause a psychological effect upon the suspect to be more fearful due to the large barrel size, according to Deputy Juan Ayala.
Martinez said that because of the cost of the ammunition — other variations can release pepper spray and paint — and the actual launcher, sergeants are the only ones allowed to possess them when responding to an incident.