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Tuesday, March 26 , 2019, 2:27 am | Fair 48º


Isla Vista Residents Want to Keep Foot Patrol Leadership

Stakeholders pen letter to Santa Barbara County Sheriff to let Lt. Rob Plastino stay longer than his two-year assignment

Isla Vista residents have asked the Sheriff’s Department to keep Lt. Rob Plastino at his Foot Patrol station commander position.
Isla Vista residents have asked the Sheriff’s Department to keep Lt. Rob Plastino at his Foot Patrol station commander position.  (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk file photo)

The list of things that long-term Isla Vista residents, college students, property owners and UC Santa Barbara professors can all agree on is slim, but they recently banded together to support one cause — keeping Lt. Rob Plastino as IV Foot Patrol station commander.

In a letter to Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown, the groups asked the sheriff to let the lieutenant remain in Isla Vista during what many believe is a critical time for a community rocked by violence and still healing.

Since Plastino came on two years ago as station commander in the densely populated UCSB-adjacent unincorporated community, the area has experienced riots at Deltopia and a mass shooting and stabbing rampage that claimed the lives of six UCSB students.

On its road to recovery, Isla Vista added its first-ever community resource deputy last month and a bill to create a Community Services District governing the area was passed by both the State Assembly and State Senate Friday, so it is heading to the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown. 

The IV Foot Patrol typically switches leadership every two years or so, the idea being that lieutenants gain experience countywide before being promoted into higher positions.

Plastino let community members know in July that his two years would soon be up, with talk of him being transferring elsewhere after December.

That’s when 30 people and local organizations signed a letter of support.

Plastino told Noozhawk he was humbled, to say the least.

“We’re so on the cusp of doing some great, wonderful things out here,” he said.

“It made me feel so good, in this day and age where we’re reading about national issues with law enforcement … I just felt really good. I am just blown away by the number of people who signed this letter. I will stay here as long as they want me and as long as the sheriff wants me to.”

Six more months would be great, Plastino said, but really not enough. He said there’s also talk of the sheriff moving lieutenants around in April 2016.

The sheriff doesn’t typically comment on personnel transfers or movements, said Kelly Hoover, a spokeswoman for the department.

“I can tell you the sheriff is very aware of the collaboration and progress being made in Isla Vista and appreciates the community’s recognition of the great work being done by Lt. Plastino and the Isla Vista Foot Patrol,” she said.

“The sheriff understands the reasoning and desire by community members to maintain consistent leadership during this formative time in Isla Vista.”

Hoover said the next round of transfers doesn’t occur until the first of the year, with decisions on who will move made closer to that time.

Since Isla Vista is such a transient population — most residents are students — retaining institutional knowledge like Plastino’s is key, said Isla Vista Recreation & Park District general manager Rodney Gould, who signed the letter.

He’s lived in Isla Vista since 1978, well aware that for every three steps the community takes forward, it takes two steps back when officials cycle out.

“Isla Vista is all about relationships,” Gould said.

“When lieutenants change out, they have to start all over. The thing about Rob is that he had an immediate connection to the community. He understands the community. He understand the students. He understands the concern of the long-term residents. It would be a shame to lose him when things are going so well.”

Whatever happens, Plastino said he has complete faith in whoever would take his place, but, “I hope I stick around.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff 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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