LOS ANGELES—Plainclothes highway patrolmen descended upon the Sepulveda Flood Control Basin’s spillway Aug. 16, but they weren’t responding to the scene of an accident. They were training on the use of the California Highway Patrol’s newest vehicles.
More than 20 patrolmen, trainers, and volunteers participated in the training, which saw them test the brand new Ford Police Interceptor Utility model, which is being phased in to replace the force’s aging fleet of iconic white-and-black Crown Victorias.
The unlikely training site resulted from a combination of the scarcity of open land in the heavily populated city and the flexibility of the Los Angeles District’s Asset Management Division.
"They accommodated us well and they were very easy to work with," said CHP Sgt. Fernando Martinez, the supervisor for the West Valley office in Woodland Hills, Calif., who worked with the district to secure a permit for the site. "This location is perfect because it’s such a big flat area, where we can do everything we need to. It’s hard to find a place like this in Los Angeles."
Trainers set up orange traffic cones in a variety of patterns to act as obstacles as trainees practiced backing up, parallel parking, and testing some of the vehicle’s features, which include all-wheel drive, an improved anti-lock braking system, and steering stabilization. This necessitated a large, hard surface, in an area devoid of vehicle and pedestrian traffic that allowed training patrolmen to reach sufficient speeds. The newer model—the first sport utility vehicle used by the CHP as its normal patrol car—is also a half ton heavier than the Crown Victoria, which Ford stopped manufacturing in 2011. The vehicle is a custom hybrid which combines a chasis similar to that of a Ford Taurus with the body of a Ford Explorer.
"This is a perfect partnership for the CHP. There’s really nowhere else in LA that gives them the ability to train at the speeds in which they need to train safely and in a restricted location," said Al Moreno, a real estate specialist with the district’s Asset Management Division. Moreno facilitated the CHP office’s permit request for use of the spillway for the training.
Sepulveda Dam is a flood risk reduction project located in the south-central portion of the San Fernando Valley and lies across the Los Angeles River. In addition to its primary purpose of flood risk reduction, Sepulveda Dam provides recreation, agriculture and wildlife mitigation benefits. Sepulveda Dam regulates flows on the Los Angeles River and is designed to reduce the risk of flooding along the river below the dam. It forms part of the system of flood risk reduction structures located on the San Gabriel and the Los Angeles Rivers and their tributaries, which are collectively known as the Los Angeles County Drainage Area.
Sepulveda Dam consists of an earth-filled embankment with a reinforced concrete gated spillway and gated outlet works. Construction of the dam was completed in December 1941.
The district’s Asset Management Division manages operations and maintenance requirements for 16 dams, debris basins, 54 channels, and portions of the Los Angeles River. The officeis also responsible for issuing permits for use of these assets for a variety of approved purposes.