Santa Rosa plans to beef up police presence in Roseland with new substation

Police Chief John Cregan said a substation could help reduce response times in southwest Santa Rosa and provide a more visible presence in the neighborhood.|

The Santa Rosa Police Department is advancing plans to open a substation on the main artery in Roseland, a move police officials say reflects the city's commitment to improving services in the historically underserved, predominantly Latino community.

Department officials say the move will reduce response times in southwest Santa Rosa and provide a place where residents can seek police assistance closer to home rather than driving to the police headquarters across town on Sonoma Avenue.

Plans call for opening the substation in the building where the current Roseland library branch is housed at the intersection of Sebastopol Road and Dutton Avenue. The city will lease the building back to the library, which is set to relocate to a planned community hub on Hearn Avenue.

In the meantime, the department is seeking to operate from a temporary location in the area.

Police Chief John Cregan said having a more visible presence in Roseland has been a top priority since he took over the department last May.

“Quite honestly, we haven’t achieved all our promises that we made when we annexed Roseland in 2017 from the police department’s side of that,” Cregan recently told a city committee.

Purchasing the building will cost $2.2 million and is being paid for by a public safety tax voters approved extending in November. The City Council is expected to consider the proposal at its June 6 meeting.

Roseland is home to about 7,400 residents, but scores of new housing projects are on the rise or in the works, including slow-moving plans for a long-awaited commercial and residential hub across the street from the planned station.

The neighborhood was folded into Santa Rosa city limits in 2017.

Community leaders and businesses welcomed the idea but noted that while relationships between residents and officers have improved, more work is needed. They worried more officers in Roseland could lead to disparate treatment or unnecessary tickets and fines that will burden residents.

Council member Eddie Alvarez, whose district includes Roseland, said his constituents have been calling for increased safety, more action to address vehicle sideshows and other crime in the area, but there are still residents in the community who distrust law enforcement and don’t want to see residents unfairly targeted.

“It’s a fine line you have to walk,” he said. “We have to be cognizant of those fears.”

Substation will be ‘community resource,’ chief says

Cregan said community members have expressed interest in seeing police officers more engaged in Roseland and southwest Santa Rosa as a whole.

Having a permanent presence in the neighborhood and at a prominent intersection is key to doing that, he said.

“It was important for me to find a location that was in the heart of Roseland and visible from Sebastopol Road,” he said. “My hope is that when people drive through there, the community knows we’re there and they’ll see us as a resource that they’re able to reach out to if they have any issues.”

Cregan, Alvarez, City Manager Maraskeshia Smith and the city’s real estate manager Jill Scott last year walked the length of Sebastopol Road looking for a potential site.

Few buildings met the department’s needs or required costly retrofits. City administrators even considered buying an empty lot and building a substation, but Cregan said it was too expensive and would delay his goal of opening a location this year.

When the library building went up for sale, it presented a perfect opportunity for the city to step in.

The 4,500-square-foot, one-story building is large enough to meet the department’s operational needs and was recently remodeled.

A substation will provide a base for officers in Roseland and help cut down on the time it takes to respond to calls, and Cregan envisions having a public lobby with bilingual and bicultural staff members where residents can make reports and seek information.

The department has six officers in the academy who are all from Santa Rosa, are Latinos and speak Spanish, part of a broader effort to hire officers that better represent the community they serve, he said.

The building also has room to hold operational briefings and community meetings.

The library will remain there until it moves to the new Hearn Community Hub, which could open by the end of 2026.

The department is still narrowing its search for a temporary location, but Cregan hopes officers can begin operating out of Roseland in late summer.

The project represents one of the first major investments in Roseland paid for under the expanded tax measure to support public safety spending in Santa Rosa.

The quarter-cent tax first approved in 2004 to pay for police, fire and violence prevention programs was extended in November for 20 years and the scope of what it pays for was expanded to include prioritizing resources in Roseland.

The expenditure also represents one of the largest expansions of police services in years. Cregan said he hopes to open a substation in east Santa Rosa in the future.

Proposal welcomed but concerns loom

Alvarez, whose family operates a business on Sebastopol Road, said local business owners and residents along the corridor have largely been supportive of the idea.

But he said some people are wary that more officers patrolling the streets could lead to an increase in tickets, fines and other potentially negative interactions with officers.

Alvarez said Cregan understands those concerns and has been open to discussing ways to address any issues. He praised the chief for his work to improve relationships with residents and said he’s noticed a marked improvement since Cregan took over the department.

This could be an opportunity to further that work, he said.

“He’s shown he wants to build a relationship with the community he serves and that includes Roseland,” he said. “This is a great opportunity for us, law enforcement and the community, to move that ball forward.”

Albert Lerma, the operations manager at Mitote Food Park, said the department has done a good job of working with the local businesses to address sideshows and other concerns and he supports officers being more present in the community.

He hopes the department continues taking a community-first approach, where it works with neighbors to identify and address issues and makes people feel comfortable seeking help, rather than taking a more punitive policing approach.

Marisol Angeles, with Grupo de Mujeres Unidas, an advocacy group in Roseland, was somewhat apprehensive about the idea. While it could help address issues like homelessness and road safety, she was concerned it could lead to an increase in use of force incidents.

“It seems to me like a good idea because it is needed but at the same time not because sometimes, not always, Latinos can be victims of excessive force,” she said in Spanish. “I know police officers who are good people, but we also know that there are others who are not so good.”

She encouraged the department to do community outreach before the temporary space opens to let residents know about the plans and to host workshops where officers and residents can get to know each other and discuss how to respond if pulled over, how to file reports and when to seek assistance.

She said some residents haven’t had many interactions with police or have had negative interactions and may feel nervous with more officers in the neighborhood. Bringing officers and residents together can help make everyone more comfortable, she said.

Cregan said he understands the concerns but hopes to show residents the department is committed to being a resource in the neighborhood.

He pointed to his department’s work to crack down on illegal vehicle demonstrations through street engineering changes and proactive policing as an example and said those efforts came out of conversations with the community who called on the department to take a tougher approach.

“Opening this substation is a big step forward in showing Roseland that we care and we’re going to be there for the long haul,” he said. “This is just one step though, we will continue to work with Alvarez and other leaders to see how we can make additional improvements.”

You can reach Staff Writer Paulina Pineda at 707-521-5268 or On Twitter @paulinapineda22.

Paulina Pineda

Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park city reporter

Decisions made by local elected officials have some of the biggest day-to-day impacts on residents, from funding investments in roads and water infrastructure to setting policies to address housing needs and homelessness. As a city reporter, I want to track those decisions and how they affect the community while also highlighting areas that are being neglected or can be improved.

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