Golden anniversary: Placer County Tahoe sheriff’s substation turns 50 |

Golden anniversary: Placer County Tahoe sheriff’s substation turns 50

Kelly Hernandez/Community submitted photoConstable Harry Johnson is photographed destroying a slot machine. Despite restrictions on gambling at Tahoe in the 1930s, the activity flourished nonetheless, keeping contemporary law enforcement busy.

TAHOE CITY, Calif. andamp;#8212; Like any law enforcement facility, the Placer County Sheriff Tahoe Station, has witnessed its fair share of hardships: escaped convicts, irate citizens, overworked and sleep-deprived officers, incoherent drunkards and despondent criminals taking their own life. The ghost of one of those suicide victims haunts the substation halls, employees say, opening and closing doors and performing other innocent operations that manage to successfully scare the building’s workers.Kelly Hernandez, administrative secretary at the substation, recalls one night a few years ago when she was at the office alone, deputies having been dispatched on various calls. Her dog heard strange noises and walked down the deserted halls, growling at the shadows with hackles raised. Hernandez retrieved the dog and locked herself in a room until patrol officers returned.The substation is also haunted by its own beginning. It was originally built as a makeshift temporary facility to house Placer County deputies during the 1960 Olympic Games in Squaw Valley, and that temporary legacy is apparent when touring the grounds andamp;#8212; the rooms and offices are small and cramped, and are used for multiple purposes.Nevertheless, the men and women that work there take pride in the amount and quality of work they are able to accomplish with resources that are at times less than ideal. andamp;#8220;This is a small station, but it is very progressive,andamp;#8221; said Sgt. Helen Thomson, acting administrator of the substation following the recent retirement of Capt. Jeff Granum. andamp;#8220;We are always updating our technology, and attempting to improve how we operate.andamp;#8221;Sgt. Bill Langton andamp;#8212; who has worked out of the station for 27 years andamp;#8212; said when he first began working, prior to the advent of cell phones, officers had to stop at pay phones in order to communicate off-radio with dispatch.andamp;#8220;We had a list of all the available pay phones in the community posted on our visors,andamp;#8221; he said. andamp;#8220;One time when I got in an accident, the radio was damaged, and I had to walk to the old Texaco station to put the call in.andamp;#8221;The office has undergone several reconfigurations, with walls knocked down to pave way for an expanded female locker room, and significant upgrades to the holding cells, especially the drunk tank, which has a padded floor along with other measures designed to prevent damaging misbehavior. andamp;#8220;We have become really good at dealing with what we have,andamp;#8221; Thomson said. andamp;#8220;We have made upgrades to improve the safety of the public, the prisoners and the officers.andamp;#8221;Thomson has worked at the office since 1979, and during that stint, the physical appearance of the building has not changed much.andamp;#8220;We’ve painted the place a few times, added some new furniture, but basically it looks the same it did 21 years ago,andamp;#8221; she said. However, Hernandez feels the celebration is not as much a recognition of the physical structure, but more the many men and women who have inhabited the office over the past 50 years.andamp;#8220;Is this place a little old and broken down?andamp;#8221; she asked rhetorically. andamp;#8220;Sure, but it is like a second home to me, and I have met a lot of really good people.andamp;#8221;

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