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CMPD to mark 60 years of service

Police station will open its doors to the public at 11 a.m. Sunday.

December 13, 2013|By Jeremiah Dobruck

Officers at the Costa Mesa Police Department each wear a piece of history on their shoulders. The insignia, which includes the words "Costa Mesa Police" flanking colorful stitching of the city's seal, has hardly changed in 60 years, according to CMPD Lt. Mark Manley.

"For the most part it's the same uniform," Manley said, noting that officer's duty belts and overall look are similar to historic photos on display in the department.

On Sunday, the public will get a look at that history when the police station opens its doors as part of the department's 60th birthday celebration — just a few months after the city of Costa Mesa hit that milestone.

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"The 60th anniversary of the city and Costa Mesa Police Department represent decades of exceptional service and dedication to the city, its residents and businesses," Police Chief Tom Gazsi said. "We're very proud of the extraordinary work that's been done faithfully by the department since 1953."

CMPD officially got its start Dec. 16 1953, when the city's first police officer, Roger Neth, hit the streets to patrol, Manley said.

Six decades later, Neth will help kick off the anniversary party with a few words during the opening ceremony at 11 a.m.

Afterward the department will open its doors for tours, demonstrations and historical exhibits.

In the station's back lot, visitors will also see how officers function in the field.

Starting at 2 p.m., officers will run a motorcycle demonstration, highlighting maneuvering and other skills.

Following the motorcycles will be a mock high-risk traffic stop and a demonstration by the SWAT team.

In his 20-year career with the department, Manley said this is the first time he can remember the public being invited to the station for guided tours.

Manley has learned the department's history himself, as he's been involved in planning the celebration and sorting through historical photos.

There's a certain nostalgic comfort to finding a similarly uniformed officer wearing an almost identical duty belt — albeit with much different equipment attached to it — decades ago, Manley said.

The continuity of the department has an effect on the tradition and culture of policing today, the lieutenant said.

"Those are the things that we hold near and dear," he said. "And they're really what makes a police department function well."

Admission is free but anyone who brings a new, unwrapped toy worth at least $10 will be entered into a raffle for the chance to win a helicopter ride at John Wayne Airport.

The toys will be donated to the nonprofit Crime Survivors Inc., which helps the victims of violent crimes.

If You Go

What: Costa Mesa Police Department 60th anniversary open house

Where: Costa Mesa police headquarters, 99 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa

When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday

Cost: Free, but attendees can enter a raffle by bringing a new, unwrapped toy worth $10 or more.

Information: kelly.vucinic@costamesaca.gov or (714) 754-4876

*A previous version of this article incorrectly stated Roger Neth began patrolling on Dec. 15 1953. It also incorrectly spelled Lt. Mark Manley's last name.

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