2010-04-08 / Front Page

Lost Hills Station earns top policing award

By Joann Groff joann@theacorn.com

TOP COP—Tom Martin, center, the former Lost Hills captain, receives  congratulations  from  local  school  officials  upon  his retirement. Prior to leaving Lost Hills, Martin helped the station win an international policing award. STEPHANIE BERTHOLDO/Acorn Newspapers TOP COP—Tom Martin, center, the former Lost Hills captain, receives congratulations from local school officials upon his retirement. Prior to leaving Lost Hills, Martin helped the station win an international policing award. STEPHANIE BERTHOLDO/Acorn Newspapers The Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station in Calabasas was recognized recently as the top policing station in North America by two organizations that work jointly to help improve public safety all over the world.

During a “Police Station Visitors Week” in October, 5,000 members of Altus Global Alliance and Vera Institute of Justice visited 211 police and sheriff’s patrol stations in 20 countries and on five continents.

Altus members rated the policing services at each station in several categories, including community orientation, physical condition, equal treatment, detention conditions and transparency and accountability.

The Malibu/Lost Hills was the highest-ranking station in North America, scoring 96 out of 100 possible points. The Lakewood and Century sheriff’s stations, both in Los Angeles County, joined Lost Hills a the top three stations in the United States.

“We’ve participated a number of years in the past,” said Lt. Steve Smith from Malibu/Lost Hills. “This year like any other year, we had interest in participating, but we were really attempting to win.”

“We were competing with police stations across the nation. The chances of winning were pretty remote, but we always like to try.”

Smith said Lost Hills was fortunate to have Agoura Hills City Councilmember Denis Weber and Calabasas Mayor Barry Groveman on the panel that visited the station.

“It was helpful to hear their perception and input,” Smith said. “They have an understanding of what the station strives to be and they have great historical context.”

Groveman said the award is well-deserved and that local residents should be pleased.

“They basically won the Academy Award of policing,” Groveman said. “The criteria have great significance in Calabasas and the surrounding communities. It’s what we want, and it’s what we expect.”

Smith said they “doubled efforts” to improve the look of the building and showcased many of their community programs, including recent focuses on cyber bullying and “sexting.”

There were other improvements as well. Smith said that because the station doesn’t have a kitchen, they used to have to drive to Camp Gonzalez, a juvenile detention camp in Malibu Canyon, to get food for inmates. Now, the station receives its own frozen dinners.

“They are like ‘TV dinners,’” Smith said. “It’s fresher, better quality food.”

Commander Thomas Martin went to Abuja, Nigeria last week as a guest of the alliance to receive the award and speak at a conference on “Community Oversight of Policing: Experiences from the Field.”

Groveman credited L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca, former Capt. Tom Martin and the city’s support for the recognition.

“We are extremely supportive of the Sheriff’s Station, whether it’s equipment, resources, whatever they need,” Groveman said. “We give them a lot of feedback and we have a very good relationship. You can ask any of them and they’ll all indicate that they enjoy working in the area because of the support they get. High morale (leads to) good service.”

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