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Goleta Council Receives Update on Sheriff’s Department, Suspicious Death Case

The Goleta City Council received a sunny update on Tuesday from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department about law enforcement activities in the city, and also heard the latest on a suspicious death case.

The city has been contracting with the Sheriff’s Department for law enforcement services since 2002. Last June, the city renewed a contract that will last another five years for services.

The contract with Goleta is the department’s largest contract at $7.1 million, which pays for 32.08 full-time positions for the fiscal year.

Several Sheriff’s Department employees gave updates Tuesday, including Lt. Steve Johnson of the criminal investigations division, who said the department is working on a suspicious death investigation.

A Goleta man, whose name was not mentioned at Tuesday’s meeting, was found dead in Las Vegas recently, and had been reported missing.

The circumstances lead “us to believe that something else happened,” Johnson said, but would not elaborate.

The department sent a handful of detectives to Las Vegas to look into the case, and the department is talking with the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office on a weekly basis, Johnson said.

Councilwoman Paula Perotte said the man had been a friend and neighbor of hers, and Johnson assured her the case was still open and active.

Thirteen officer-involved shootings are under investigation countywide, one of which was the 2011 shooting of transient Charles Quinn near the Camino Real Marketplace. That case remains ongoing, and the defendant had been in custody since then, but “we’re still putting out investigative hours to handle that incident,” Johnson said.

Sheriff Bill Brown also spoke at Tuesday’s meeting, and said the economies of scale on both the department and the city’s sides “make this a beneficial arrangement.”

Lt. Butch Arnoldi said the department received more calls for service last year, and that deputies are keeping “extremely busy.” He said the Goleta patrol station is the busiest in the county, making it “a very productive station.”

Sgt. Kevin Huddle spoke about patrol operations. He is one of three full-time motor officers, and said citations are down this year as well as the number of towed vehicles.

Deputy Greg Sorensen, a community resource deputy for the city, spoke about the progress they’ve made with graffiti abatement, neighborhood watch programs and safe routes to school.

Brown was asked by Mayor Roger Aceves about the department’s future as the economy continues to improve.

“By and large, things are starting to look up,” Brown said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper 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.

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