After decades of working out of a building that once housed a Circle K convenience store, Hesperia's police officially moved into their new, more spacious home on Wednesday.


Approximately 200 dignitaries, San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department employees, county and city staff and various elected officials and candidates gathered outside the new Hesperia Police Department building on Smoketree Street, across the street from Hesperia City Hall.


"This is the finest law enforcement facility in the sheriff's department," Sheriff Rod Hoops told the crowd. His predecessor, Gary Penrod, was the city's first sheriff's captain, and worked out of the old 7,600 square foot facility (which was the city's water department after it was a Circle K) on Santa Fe Avenue.


The new station is 43,000 square feet and will house 75 members of the sheriff's department, including sworn officers, along with additional volunteers. The new station, and the neighboring High Desert San Bernardino County Government Center, both share the look of the nearby city hall and community library.


The new station includes two "observation room" cells, a gymnasium, locker room, a secure evidence room complete with a garage entrance for bringing in large quantities of evidence and other amenities.


The station house was budgeted at $20 million, but even with the addition of solar power generators, came in under budget -- thanks to the efficiencies of building the station and government center concurrently and the lower demand for labor and construction materials during the recession -- costing Hesperia residents $17 million, instead.


"The city of Hesperia's number one priority is public safety," Mayor Thurston "Smitty" Smith told those assembled. The city has been the safest in the Victor Valley for the last two years.


The new building was designed in cooperation with the sheriff's department.


"We are very proud that we're here at this point in the city's history," said Hesperia sheriff's captain Lance Clark. "We're humbled that the city has entrusted with the design of this facility."


After the ceremony, Hesperia City Councilman Mike Leonard praised the city's deputy director of economic development, Steve Lantsberger, for having the vision to set aside the land next to city hall until money was available for uses like the two new government buildings.


The new station is located at 15840 Smoketree Street.


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 760-956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.