While violent and gang crime rates are lower than last year in Santa Barbara, property crimes are still rising, Police Chief Cam Sanchez said Tuesday in his monthly update to the City Council.
He said most of the burglaries — especially with belongings stolen out of cars — are crimes of opportunity where thieves find an unlocked car or choose the one where they can see items they want through the windows. Officers have arrested crews of burglars, Sanchez said. “but they “continue to beat us to the punch.”
After a citywide budget presentation, Sanchez said the Police Department will purchase patrol car video cameras for the entire fleet within the next few months.
All law enforcement agencies in the county except SBPD and the Guadalupe Police Department have them, and the Santa Barbara County Grand Jury recommended that the departments implement them immediately to increase transparency.
Since the city authorized him to “overhire” for both open and future job openings, Sanchez said he and his staff are interviewing 260 people for three or four positions that will free up from retirements this year. He said being a police officer in Santa Barbara is clearly very much in demand, since the city received 2,580 applications for those four jobs.
Sanchez said Tuesday he wants to get more police officers from within the city itself in the future and will be exploring the Los Angeles Police Academy Magnet School Program to see if something similar can be implemented in Santa Barbara. He said the LAPD’s program at five high schools has 500 students taking public safety and law enforcement classes, and graduating seniors can earn enough credits for half an associate degree.
“I believe we need more opportunities for local folks to get hired in the city they grew up in,” he said.