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Local News

Santa Barbara Police Activities League Still Going Strong Despite Budget Cuts

Police Chief Cam Sanchez says the youth programs are key to the department's prevention and intervention programs

The Santa Barbara Police Activities League is alive and well despite department budget cuts, Police Chief Cam Sanchez said at a Tuesday news conference.

The program’s free activities and camps for the city’s youth flourish, even though the Police Department often pulls the PAL officer over to patrol duties, which is the case right now. He said PAL’s staff, board of directors and community partnerships all contribute to its successes.

PAL is critical for the department’s prevention and intervention efforts and developing good relationships with children, Sanchez said. The programs give youths a positive place to be and allow them to make positive decisions later in life, Sanchez said, adding that about 1,600 children participate per year.

“We’re not asking young people to be perfect, just to do the best they can,” he said. “There are no bad kids, just bad decisions.”

Unlike PAL, the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program can’t function without a police officer, so it could be on hold for another year.

The Police Department is one of the only ones in California given the authority to over-hire to make up for vacancies and retirements, which is a big blessing, Sanchez said.

There haven’t been layoffs but positions have moved around. There used to be full-time positions assigned to D.A.R.E., PAL and seven beat coordinators — there is now one — but positions have been moved to enhance the gang unit, bicycle officers and create the nightlife enforcement team that works in the downtown bar and restaurant area.

Two new recruits recently graduated from the police academy, and four more are scheduled to graduate in July, who then complete field training and become patrol officers.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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