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Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 12:57 pm | Fair 67º

 
 
 
 

New DA Administration Outlines Its First 75 Days

DA Joyce Dudley and her office also lay out goals for the next 75 days

In response to inquiries from several media outlets, below please find a description of the first 75 days of the new administration of the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office.

» After months of being understaffed, we have hired nine new attorneys to replace attorneys who retired last year. All of the new attorneys have been brought in at the entry-level portion of the attorney pay scale and are replacing attorneys who were paid at the highest level, thus realizing substantial budget savings. Several of our new attorneys are local residents who have been volunteering in our office, while the remaining lawyers are from throughout our state. All of our new professionals are experienced and well-educated, and many are bilingual and/or bicultural. And, for the first time, our North County offices now have as many attorneys as does our South County office.

» In an effort to be immediately available for arson investigations we have created an Arson Task Force made up of 31 fire officials from throughout Santa Barbara County. This new task force has already met twice, and we have a third meeting/training date set for October. Two senior deputy district attorneys (North/South) and one DA investigator have been assigned to this task force. We are now poised to readily assist all county fire agencies as the need arises.

» In response to our local crime concerns, we have created new units within the District Attorney’s Office. In the South County we now have three such units: Gangs and Youthful Offenders (including gangs, juvenile crime, graffiti and our future truancy program); Vulnerable Victims (including sexual assault, crimes against children and the elderly, hate crimes and domestic violence); and White Collar (including embezzlement, fraud, identify theft and cyber crimes). Deputy district attorneys and DA investigators are now staffing these three units and are working with outside public and private agencies to prosecute and prevent these crimes.

» In our Santa Maria office, we have added two experienced deputy district attorneys to the prosecution team of Gang Crimes and another deputy district attorney to the Sex and Violent Crimes unit. In our Lompoc office, we also have added additional staff, including a deputy district attorney and an investigator. Again, all of these “additional” attorneys and investigators were positions that had been previously funded but because of budget constraints could not be filled.

» We have created a continuing education and volunteer program under the direction of a chief deputy district attorney. These programs include countywide training for all staff, a mentorship program for new attorneys and a Deputy District Attorney Pro Tem Unit for attorneys who wish to volunteer at the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office. In addition, deputy district attorneys will be individually responsible for conducting training programs for attorneys, staff and local law enforcement agencies.

» In an effort to reduce costs and increase productivity, we have hosted visits to the District Attorney’s Office by numerous members of our governmental community, including members of the Board of Supervisors, Chief Executive Office, department heads from Probation, the Public Defender’s Office, the Sheriff’s Department and the Santa Barbara Police Department. I also have met with Presiding Judge Garcia and several other judges. Each of these meetings has been very useful and has fostered an environment of mutual support and cooperation. Toward that end, I also have attended meetings with several members of our nonprofit community, including Casa Esperanza, Fighting Back, Cottage Hospital SCAN Committee, the Santa Barbara Boys & Girls Club, and the Santa Barbara County Re-entry Project.

» We have evaluated and have made changes in our support staff systems in both the Lompoc and Santa Maria offices in an effort toward further efficiency. We also have rearranged our office space in all locations in an effort to be more effective.

» In an effort to bring greater unification to our North and South County offices, our South County administrative staff and I have made visits to North County offices on a near weekly basis. We have attended multiple North County events such as countywide S.W.A.T. training, Santa Maria Elks Club Law Enforcement Appreciation Night and Drug Court graduations, and we have met with Lompoc and Santa Maria police departments, Vandenberg Air Force Base and the Restorative Justice Council. We will continue visiting all parts of Northern Santa Barbara County on a regular basis.

» Given my commitment to work within our budget, I have met with the department heads of our chief executive and auditor’s offices, and I will continue to meet with their staff on a monthly basis throughout this year. 

In the next 75 days we intend to:

» Return deputy district attorneys to drug court assignments in support of the court’s proactive approach to crime prevention through sobriety.

» Increase the investigation and prosecution of workers’ compensation and real estate fraud.

» Strengthen our cyber crime investigations and prosecutions in an effort to reduce cyber crimes, including cyber bullying and identity theft.

» Implement a new and more proactive truancy program to reduce truancy in all Santa Barbara County schools.

» Redesign the Web site for the District Attorney’s Office to provide more information to the public.

» Accept the first pro tem attorneys to our volunteer externship program, which we expect will increase our ability to serve the county, without increasing our costs, while simultaneously training future deputy district attorneys.

Within the District Attorney’s Office there is improved morale, communication and transparency, along with a continuing sense of pride, commitment and passion in fulfilling our responsibility to ensure safety and justice for all of Santa Barbara County.

Joyce Dudley is Santa Barbara County’s district attorney.

 

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