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The HMB Police Station: the city's 1987 jalopy

Police Capt. Mike O’Malley remembers moving from Delano back in 1985 to start his new job as a Half Moon Bay police officer.

Now 49 years old, he recalls the police station, then located on the second floor of City Hall, as an absolute nightmare. O’Malley remembers being unable to get to his locker if it was raining, because the roof leaked so much.

After the old City Hall was condemned by Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Half Moon Bay demolished the Main Street building and the police moved into a prefabricated trailer off Kelly Avenue. While City Hall was rebuilt quickly, the Police Department’s makeshift trailers have instead become a de facto town fixture.

Today the city police describe their station the way they would an old jalopy: it costs so much to fix up and maintain that it’s a better bargain to buy a new one.

“The promise when I came here was that the city would be building a nice new police facility,” O’Malley said. “Here we are, 23 years later, and that’s come and gone.”

O’Malley says that after years of wear and tear, the cheap trailers are structurally unsafe and could topple if a true disaster such as a strong earthquake or gale-force winds hit them. When the 1989 Loma Prieta quake hit the Bay Area, the walls of the trailers buckled, making the door frames in the station crooked.

“Loma Prieta was small for us since Half Moon Bay is located on bedrock,” O’Malley said. “But if a major disaster hit, your Police Department isn’t going to be standing. And isn’t that when you want your police station standing?”

Other than the danger of a building collapse, O’Malley cites a host of nuisances the old facility has endured, including rotting walls, holes in the floor, and walls shaking from the seasonal winds. And at least twice every year, some type of critter dies under the building, emitting a nauseating smell throughout the building, he says.

But both O’Malley and Police Chief Don O’Keefe say that the lackluster facility hasn’t impeded their ability to fight crime. And that, O’Malley says, is part of the problem: Coastside residents don’t view crime as a big concern, and thus a new police station hasn’t been a top priority for taxpayers’ dollars.

But talk of a new police station has been revitalized in the last week with news that Half Moon Bay could receive as much as $750,000 from the federal government. The news has raised high hopes for many Coastside officials, but O’Malley is skeptical that Half Moon Bay will ever see a new police station.

“I have a right to be suspicious at this point,” he said. “How I look at it right now, I may retire before this department sees anything.”


About time the Top Brass at the Police station started batting for their Men and not just sliiiiiiding off into retirment after a career of not daring to rock the boat with successive HMB city councils that do nothing but talk-talk-talk!

We have for the first time in many years a well trained police department after years of one new police officer after another We need to hold on to this crew We need to show them we care or they will go to another town after we have spent thousands training them.

Good luck Mr O'Malley and Mr O'Keefe.in getting a safe building for your Men

I remember when Capt, O'malley came to work for HMB police dept. I was working for the city public works then and everything that he says about the old city hall and the second floor area where the pd was located is true.When they were told to move into the trailer they were told it would be only for a short time. I recall we in public works would time and again have to go into the trailer to make repairs or set traps and poison for rodents that infested the trailer. The traier grew smaller as time went on and we had to bring in a small container that was set outside for important papers since there was no room inside. It was called the evidence container. I guess it is still there next to the generator. Capt.O'malley is a good man and he is angry as the people of HMB should also be. I just wonder how many people have taken the time to go to the police trailer to see for themselves. I know that more parks are important but so are a happy police department. Lets spend some money on them too.

The city just got back $5,000,000 that it spent in reimbursement for legal fees fighting a land use case. Why doesn’t the city use that money to buy a new police station? If it doesn't, then the new council is as useless as previous councils.

One 20 year council member has talked about a new police station and a new park for 20 years with nothing to show but a lot of talk and hot air.

I guess we deserve the government that we vote for, since we keep electing liers who tell us what we want to hear, and do what they want when elected. It seems that there are several folks on the council that said (some repeatedly for years) that they want a new police building, library, and parks.

It must be nice to have the title of mayor or councilmember when getting a table at a local restaurant, but not so nice for the citizens who realy want things done, at least the things that the council said they were going to do when running for office. The Farmer is the only one who seems to know what he is doing thesse days.

Half Moon Bay should allow the Sheriff's Office to take over services. The town is too small and too slow to justify the money on the police dept. The article was laughable. If a big earthquake struck and it damaged the existing trailers...so what? All dispatch services are done from Redwood City (The Sheriff's Office). The Moss Beach Sub station and the La Honda substation are more than able to cover what few little calls that ever come in from HMB. The deputies cover 99% of the entre coast and have more experience in one finger than the entire combined staff of the current HMB force (about 5 or 6 people). Lose the PD, save the money and get more service. The savings on retirement, salary, benefits, insurance and equipment could re-vamp the entire downtown with a whole lot of money left over.

I agree. Cut the police department loose.

I remember being at either a city council meeting or a meeting where a library task force was making a report to the city council---the old city council. The volunteer group had done a months long study and made a suggestion that the current library site, the current middle school site all be redeveloped into a new "civic center" with a new police stateion, 2 story library, community center, etc.

Of course that was shot down by the sitting council at that time.

I'm a bit vague, so maybe someone could fill in the details.


Amused and Desuma. Yeah, maybe the Sheriff can get us a break in Las Vegas at the same time...LOL...Savings??? The Sheriff's Deputies make more money than the PD Officers...Explain..

Ted...they have ALOT more to do than a little hmbpd officer. They work the courts, transport inmates to from from prisons all over the state of Ca. They handle all extraditions from all over he United States. They work all custody divisions. They cover patrol in Unincorporated Redwood City, Unincorporated Menlo Park, Woodside, Ladera, Portola Valley, the entire north and south coast (to the County of Santa Cruz, COunty of Santa Clara and County of San Francisco borders). The cover the San Mateo Highlands area and cover East Palo Alto as needed. They run the San Mateo County Narcotics Task force as well as the gang task force. The detective bureau assists multiple municiple agencies with large crime scenes they simply don not have the resources for. I could go on and on but I think you get the point. What Sheriff Munks and Under SHeriff Bolanos did was stupid. Don't you take it out on the line level people who work hard and are professional. Clearly, the Sheriff's Office brings way more experience to the table. It is time to face the facts. Get rid of the HMBPD and save millions. Nothing would have to be built, nothing would have to be bought and and the service would be far superior to what the town of HMB is getting now.

I use to think the sheriff's could do a good job for us in HMB until the chief sheriff Greg Munks. !COVER UP! Job

The best thing HMB PD chief Denic Wick did in 2000 was to fire three police officers in as many months for telling lies

The result today of this earlier "no tolerance" stance is we have honest leadership and honest hmb police officers

Its a top down deal

Munks and his second in command took over from Chief Don Horesy an honest cop that had cleaned up the the Sheriff's office during his ten pluss years in the job only to let Munks trash it with his blatant lies

I dont mind paying extra for honest cops

Just like I dont mind paying extra for food that isn't poisoned.

I use to be big on training and experiance

In todays world honesty is #1 I use to think having the Sheriff's take over from hmb pd would be clearly more cost affective However the human cost is troubling.

Oh Spank Me...your spelling and grammar are very troubling as well. Get your head out of the sand. It is time the tax payers of HMB do the smart and fiscally responsible thing. Get rid of a very expensive liability and close the HMB PD. Those that are competant and qualified will be offered jobs with the Sheriff's Office. Those that are trouble makers and/or dead weight...will go elsewhere. Meanwhile, MILLIONS of dollars would be saved to be ear marked for major projects in the City. It just makes sense.

Amused. You have alot of knowledge about the Sheriff's Office. Are you a Deputy Sheriff? LOL. The Sheriff's Office does a great job, but that doesn't mean that they should police Half Moon Bay. Like you mentioned, there are alot of opportunities there, which means that Half Moon Bay would be a revolving door, personnel wise that is. Just like what will happen with CalFire. Just look at CHP, they come and go all the time. There is nothing wrong with these organizations, but their expertise isn't geared towards getting to know the community like local police and fire departments do. In addition, nothing comes for free. The County isn't going to build the PD for free. EVERYTHING will be charged back to the City one way or another. Did you ever think that if we went with the County, then they could charge us anything they want? Were not like those cities over the hill that can band together. We are it!

Amused it's all about "content" you are about a mile long and any 1/4 inch wide.

OSM. Right on!

Amused hit the nail on the head. Any one that has had any dealing with the immature, incompetant HMBPD will agree to do as suggested and let it go. Sure nothing is free...but it would be a fraction of cost it is now. Just like Santa Clara County having "contract cities" or Alameda COunty, or Contra Costa County. This is truly a great solution to get rid of the headache the HMBPD is to the City. The residents would get better service and save some money. Win Win.

HMBPD does an excellent job!!!! Low crime rate - excellent job working with the hispanic community- Great knowledge of the area and people. Keep up the good work.

By turning to the county and eliminating your local police, you loose local control and the friendliness of a small community. Is it always about money and not about the quality of life?

Amused: Did you mean "competent" like capable?

As in, "The author of that post was a competent speller"

Pardon the grammer, of course

...or "grammar" if you prefer

What's funny is so many of you are against HMBPD until you need them for something. You think there would be as much police presence if the sheriff were the only ones on the coast? I don't think so.

Robert. Well said.

Sleepy town? Do you not read the police log or any car theft stories? This town has crime just like any place else. Sure, it's on a smaller scale due to the size, but the police has their work to do. If somebody is breaking into your home and it takes 10 minutes for the police to respond because they are coming from El Granada instead of HMB, then you'll want HMBPD to exist.

I spiked one comment that was overly derogatory. Please make your point without casting aspersions.

Oh and a Review's cartoon of two HMB police officers torturing/waterboarding an individual is not "casting aspersions

Im really disgusted to see our kind polide officers taken advantage of by cowards who would never dare to potray police so disrespectfully in some other areas

This constant deliberate distortion of truth is causing anarchy in our town


also amused lol !

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