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Sunday, March 24 , 2019, 11:20 pm | Fair 51º


Letter to the Editor: Deputy Sheriffs’ Association Weighs In on County’s Increased Crime Rates

The members and directors of the Santa Barbara County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association were disappointed but not surprised to see the increase in violent and property crimes in Santa Barbara County in 2016.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office released the UCR Part 1 and Part 2 crime data late last week, expressing the agency’s “concern on the uptick on crime” as well as comments from the sheriff.

The rising crime rates appear to be both local in Santa Barbara County and statewide. While a number of local governments have immediately authorized and implemented additional patrol officers, the members of the SBCDSA have been forced to endure continued reduced patrol staffing, including working below ever-changing “minimum staffing levels.”

SBSO command staff in 2016 temporarily implemented mandatory overtime for patrol deputies until it was deemed to be too costly for the agency and county. Detectives were also provisionally shifted back to patrol, and the agency’s gang and narcotics team was cut in half. The agency also wisely implemented online reporting for the public to ease the burden on the patrol staff. However, with the increase in crimes, these and other solutions are not working.

It should be noted that the mandatory overtime for custody personnel continues, as does the increase on violent assaults on staff, as noted in previous press releases (Aug. 3, 2016, and Aug. 15, 2016).

While staffing shortages of sworn personnel have already clearly impacted the agency's ability to provide the kind of public safety services Santa Barbara County residents expect and deserve, the looming FY 2017-18 budget cuts from the county make the situation even more dire.

SBCDSA vice president Brad Welch stated, “Last year and into this year, the decision on the least number of patrol deputies in the field that can maintain sufficient coverage, adequate response times and safe backup continued to change. That coupled with already diminished staffing, the effects of Proposition 47 and more has led to this unfortunate 'uptick in crime' for the fine residents of our county.

"Our hope is that in our partnership with the agency, we can convince the board of supervisors to cease cuts from the sheriff’s office and help divert more funding to public safety and to the safety of our public, which is clearly in jeopardy. As one member recently told me, 'We are no longer trimming the fat, we are cutting limbs.'"

Jeffrey Monical
Santa Barbara County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association

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