Friday, February 12 , 2016, 3:02 pm | Fair 74º

Police Chief Says Realignment to Blame for Rise in Santa Barbara Crime

Cam Sanchez tells the City Council that burglaries in particular are increasing since the state process was implemented

Santa Barbara Police Chief Cam Sanchez tells the City Council on Tuesday that the realignment process for state prisoners has led to a spike in local crimes, especially burglary.
Santa Barbara Police Chief Cam Sanchez tells the City Council on Tuesday that the realignment process for state prisoners has led to a spike in local crimes, especially burglary.  (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

By Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @magnoli |

The early release of state prisoners through realignment has contributed to higher crime rates in the city, Santa Barbara Police Chief Cam Sanchez told the City Council on Tuesday.

In his regular report to the council, Sanchez said one of the reasons for more “Part 1” crimes — including homicide, rape, assault, robbery and burglary -— is the number of offenders in the community who otherwise would still be locked up.

There were 3,290 Part 1 crimes in 2011, which increased to 3,616 for 2012, he said.

Burglaries in particular have been high recently, he said, and police haven’t solved any of the 35 residential break-ins that occurred in December.

Those include both daytime and nighttime burglaries, some while people were at home.

“In Santa Barbara in November, 50 percent of the arrests we made for burglars were folks who, if not for realignment by the state, would have still been in custody,” Sanchez said. “It should be a concern for all of us.”

Sanchez said his department is working with San Luis Obispo and Ventura county agencies to put together data on the offenders, working to show the state that realignment — a cost-saving process developed by the state — “may not have been a great idea at the end of the day.”

Police have had more success getting arrests with commercial burglaries, where many businesses have security cameras or fingerprints are left behind.

Law enforcement agencies have great relationships with pawn shops in the city and county, which are trained to report suspicious items to police, Sanchez added.

Keeping with a trend the last six years, more than 90 percent of vehicle burglaries in December happened when a car was unlocked, running, or had the keys left in it.

“December was a very, very tough month for us,” Sanchez said.

He plans to shift some personnel to help Sgt. Dan McGrew and the property crimes detectives with their cases.
In other staffing changes, the department announced a Criminal Impact Team this week, which includes a supervisor and four officers to investigate serious crimes committed by career criminals, as well as crime trends.

Last year’s police calls for service totaled 39,112, with an average 27.5-minute response time overall.

For Priority 1 calls — which may result in injury or death — the department averaged a 6.2-minute response time, close to its goal of six minutes. The department had an average response time of 13 minutes for Priority 2 calls last year.

There were 25 gang incidents in December, according to department data, but 18 were categorized as “other.”

Those crimes can range from graffiti to a non-gang-related drunk-in-public charges, as long as they are committed by someone associated with a gang, Sanchez said.

Councilwoman Cathy Murillo said she wasn’t comfortable with that, and wanted to discuss it later, since the charge itself doesn’t have to be gang-related to be counted in that data.

Some public speakers and council members also brought up the city’s ongoing attempt to get a gang injunction against 30 named individuals, alleged members of the Eastside or Westside criminal street gangs in Santa Barbara.

The civil suit, which still hasn’t gone to trial, is being handled by Superior Court Judge Colleen Sterne.

Attorneys on both sides are waiting on a decision from Juvenile Court Judge Thomas Adams, who will determine whether defendant juvenile arrest records can be used in this case.

The city has to prove there are two criminal street gangs, that the city is entitled to an injunction, and that the 30 named people are involved with them and should be restrained, City Attorney Steve Wiley said.

Opponents have said the injunction opens police up to racial profiling, but Wiley and Sanchez said the process would only apply to the named individuals.

“The words racial profiling make me ill,” said Sanchez, who added that anyone worried about the matter can make a complaint to the department’s Internal Affairs division.

Every complaint – even anonymous ones – is investigated, and none has affirmed racial profiling during his 13 years with the department, Sanchez said.

The department has a watch commander on duty at all times, who can be reached at 805.897.2376 with concerns or complaints.

Recently, calls have been coming in about officers “staking out” areas on the Westside to catch undocumented drivers.

Sanchez said the motorcycle officers in those spots – near Foodland and Super Cuca’s, for example – are there because of accident history and high pedestrian flow from students going to school.

Those officers are a big part of the school crossing process, he said.

Sanchez also spoke briefly about the work his department is doing with local schools after the shooting in Newtown, Conn.

Police have had an active-shooter policy for about 10 years, and every patrol car has maps and blueprints of city schools, he said.

The department used to make every sworn member go on walk-throughs of the campuses, and will be doing so again soon for all the new employees, Sanchez added.

Sanchez has been meeting with Santa Barbara Unified School District officials and other districts within city limits to enhance safety plans. He guarantees that the department is ready for such an event, he said.

“We plan for the worst and hope for the best,” he said.

He wound up his presentation Tuesday with updates for the Citizens Academy and Coffee with a Cop, where citizens can show up and ask questions of police officers.

The next dates are 8:30 a.m. Jan. 22 at the McDonald’s at 29 S. Milpas St. and 10 a.m. Feb. 19 at the Starbucks at 208 W. Carrillo St.

The current Eastside Citizens Academy will hold a graduation ceremony for its 56 graduates at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Franklin Community Center.

Another academy will start sometime in February, and the department plans to hold it in both English and Spanish on the Westside.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

» on 01.09.13 @ 08:37 AM

Government must decide what it wishes to prioritize. California has too many demands on its revenues and as a result what many consider a very high priority that is safety suffers. Not too complicated. I just wonder if anyone wishes to really address how to allocate limited assets.

» on 01.09.13 @ 11:30 AM

“In Santa Barbara in November, 50 percent of the arrests we made for burglars were folks who, if not for realignment by the state, would have still been in custody,” Sanchez said.

50 percent of what?  1 out of 2 is 50%, so this is no evidence that Realignment is the source of the burglary rise.

In this report, Sanchez hid the real numbers for how many arrests they really made in November and has solved none of the 35 burglary cases in December.  And then he reports that 18 of the 25 “gang-related crimes” had nothing to do with gang crimes, but he would not disclose what those 18 crime incidents really involved, such as peeing or drunk in public, which are hardly anything new and dangerous by our local standards that drive our economy.

Cam Sanchez has a severe problem with disclosure and distortion, and too much reliance on truthiness, hoping the city council and the public are too dumb or timid to call his bluff.  Let’s hope Noozhawk does its job and investigates this.

» on 01.09.13 @ 11:59 AM

Sanchez’ conclusions are illogical.  How can he attribute cause and effect when in fact the perpetrators of the birglaries have not been identified or arrested! He clearly does not understand realignment because the fact is no one is “released early”, they are serving time locally instead of in prison. Why is he allowed to make such wild unsubstantiated hyperbole?

» on 01.09.13 @ 01:40 PM

The blame is really simple—un-wanted and lazy kids from the 50 year old failed Welfare food stamp and section 8 free hand out programs. These people are lazy pathetic losers who have NO work ethic.

Abolish the lazy Welfare programs and give people dignity. Teach them to work—Not work the hand out system.

Thanks Democrats for the mess, they use the lazy people on drugs>> I mean Welfare for votes.

» on 01.09.13 @ 01:41 PM

How convenient for Sanchez to have yet another scapegoat to blame for his incompetence.  I lived in NYC when Giulani caused a huge reduction in crime and I’ve lived here for 15 years and observed with disappointment and disgust the performance of the SBPD under Sanchez.  Compared to NYC, cleaning up SB is a trivial job.  Put your officers to work, Sanchez, I see too many sitting in their cars blocking traffic while talking to another officer.  Or giving out questionable DUIs.

» on 01.09.13 @ 04:46 PM

Anyone actually believe “Chief” will take responsibility for these problems?  If you do you need to “get a life.”

The social justice crowd hired him and gang violence sky rocketed.  Don’t forget it was Sanchez who started a non-profit for restorative policing and tried to get grants to fund it.  All while getting his fat paycheck, his big time loan for his home, and refusing to take on the daily issues that would eventually put him at odds with the Mexican / Hispanic power groups.  (anyone hear echos of Acorn?)

He applied for a job out of the area without notifying the City Administrator.  Hummmm.  They rejected him.

He appoints or promotes “yes” police and then blames problems on someone or something else.  There are plenty of easy street targets, like storage of vehicles, vehicle noise violations, fire arms in and around ex-cons and juvenile delinquents.  It makes the point to the thugs you will not be tolerated.

Still happy with Schneider, Murillo, and House with their interpretation of justice?

You get what you vote for.

(no I don’t live on the Mesa)

» on 01.09.13 @ 10:33 PM

Normally I would agree with most of the posters that Sanchez is looking for a scapegoat to blame for his own incompetence and total lack of leadership.. However, the more I read about the state’s realignment efforts, the more concerned I am about the issue of safety. Thousands of people are being transferred to local jails and are being released without any supervision. Many are committing new crimes because of the lack of follow-up and the fact that their sentences are not appropriate for the seriousness of the crimes they have committed. Read this article to understand this issue better.

» on 01.09.13 @ 11:40 PM

Really, Really?

True gang-related crime has been decreasing, as Noozhawk and the Independent have reported many times.  And neither Schneider, House, or Murillo were on the city council when Cam Sanchez was hired in early 2001.

You certainly are entitled to your own amusing opinions, but you are definitely not entitled to your own facts.

» on 01.10.13 @ 04:36 PM

Jonny Lad, I guess you missed the time the State Drug enforcement walked into town and stated they were going to do what the Chief was not doing and the City Police Department could either help or get out of the way!

Guess you missed the stabbing increases under his unfettered administration. 

It wasn’t until the public became fed up and went after him and his political supporters that it started to change.

I manage property on both the north and east side of town.  When you see bricks of drugs being dropped off to people, you have tenants with significant losses, when you notify authorities of ex-con and juvenile parole persons living in a house with multiple rifles and ammunition and the place isn’t turned inside out, when you have multiple vehicles stored on the streets and not towed, when certain officers feel it is OK to constantly contact females when told no, you know there is a significant problem and it starts from the top down.

I am tired of the politically correct who give this guy and his stooges a break.  If it wasn’t for the POA the department would be in more trouble then now.

It is not amusing to me to have to deal with this type of junk.  So Johnny you have a good day and continue to ignore the problem.

» on 01.10.13 @ 10:40 PM

Sure seems to be plenty of cops writing useless sleeping in public tickets in the downtown sector!  Maybe the ACLU needs to help the authorities get their priorities straight.  I don’t think it’s a matter of “aligning from the state level.  I think that the local criminal element isn’t as stupid as the people who sit in these council meetings and listen to whatever the police want to tell them.  Like “Newtown”  Haven’t the police been worried about guns in school for years?  i know the parents have.

» on 01.13.13 @ 11:53 PM

The POA is as big a problem as Sanchez. SB is going nowhere until we get rid of Jim Armstrong, who refuses to fire Sanchez, Steve Wiley, who will continue to cost us millions in litigation against the city, and Joyce Dudley, who refuses to file complaints against corrupt cops. Oversight by the AG is the only option - wee have too many crooks in the same SB vigilante cartel to expect any change without external intervention.

» on 01.18.13 @ 03:01 AM

Thousands of recently released criminals have no supervision or rehabilitation!!!! EXACTLY! And NO place to go except for the rip off, money making so called sober homes! Where many have died while there; the people who run them are using drugs and stealing from these people who want the help & treatment! But there is no treatment here in S.B. the people who run the Stalwart house & light house should be arrested! The court system here & outside are sending men to these horrible homes! Ask family’s to come forward and share their experiences. They actually have & nothing is being done! THEY NEED HELP & TREATMENT…

» on 01.18.13 @ 03:04 AM

How long has Cam been the chief here? & he is still not aware there is no help! & the sheriff gets to built a larger jail? If you think its a mess now, wait until that jail idea is done!!! SAD.

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