The Metropolitan Police Department’s new Summerlin Area Command officially opened its doors to the public Wednesday morning.
Hundreds huddled against cold, gusty winds to celebrate the inauguration of the department’s 10th substation.
The new substation, at 11301 Redpoint Drive, will have 166 officers covering 70 square miles and was decades in the making. Kevin Orrock, president of the master-planned community developed by the Howard Hughes Corp., said the substation was part of the original blueprint when Summerlin started in the late 1980s.
Four or five years ago, Orrock said, he and Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo started talking about how to make it happen. Lombardo explained that Metro had a plot of land set aside near the Las Vegas Ballpark but had to give it up when the economy went south.
According to Lombardo, state law prevents Metro from owning its own buildings. He said the department can only rent or lease property, so it has to partner with a private donor or with the city or county government.
In this case, Metro has partnered with the Hughes Corp. Because the company donated the land, Metro is technically leasing the property but does not have to pay rent.
The company donated a plot of land and funded the planning and construction of the building, Orrock said, and Metro took care of staffing.
“We could have put up the building any time, but it would have been useless without cops to fill it,” Orrock said. “But once Metro was able to work their budget to staff a new substation, we were ready to roll.”
Lombardo said some people question why the station was built in Summerlin as opposed to somewhere else in the valley where they see more crime. But Metro reworked the borders for its other nine area commands, he said, so geographic boundaries are now smaller for all 10 area commands.
“Your quality of police work increases and your timeliness in response increases,” Lombardo said. “It doesn’t matter where it’s built.”
Capt. Sasha Larkin, who moved from the Northwest Area Command to head the new Summerlin location, said she’s excited to get to know a new community. She’s garnered a reputation for community policing over her two decades at Metro, whether it was in her time overseeing the office of community engagement or just her everyday policing.
Larkin said community policing is important to her because “today in the world of policing, we the police can no longer do it alone.”
She said she strives to get to know the community she’s overseeing, so that she can learn the issues residents are facing and help them come up with a long-term solution, in addition to solving each problem that pops up individually.
Larkin said she is excited about her plan to implement traveling First Tuesdays once the substation is settled. The first few will take place at the station, but she hopes to get out into the community in a few months.
On the first Tuesday of every month, Metro opens the doors of its substations to give members of the community an open forum of communication with the officers who patrol their neighborhoods.
“We’re going to start to take First Tuesday on the road and take it around Summerlin to hopefully reach different pockets,” Larkin said. “Whether people don’t have the transportation methods to come over here or just so we can learn about the new places, we want the community to get excited to come out and see us.”
Larkin said she also has been working to train her officers on how to handle community-specific issues. With a handful of synagogues and private Jewish schools, she said there is a large Jewish population that she hopes to protect from the anti-Semitic attacks that have become so prominent across the country. In recent weeks, she said, she brought in the Anti-Defamation League and Jewish Nevada to help train her officers on how to attack the issue.
“Because I will tell you this: Not on my watch are we going to have these kinds of crimes happening,” Larkin said. “And we’re going to do everything we can on the front end to prevent that kind of violence from ever erupting in this space.”
Shortly after the ribbon was cut outside the front doors, letting the community in to see the facility for the first time, Orrock said the station will quickly become “one of the most impactful buildings for the Summerlin community.”