Friday, January 19 , 2018, 5:56 pm | Fair 59º


Local News

Santa Barbara Police Department Fills Most of Its Vacant Positions

Department also reports increase in auto burglaries, plans a January start for Student Neighborhood Assistance Program for noise violations

After being under staffed for a lengthy period, the Santa Barbara Police Department has no filled all but two of its 142 positions.
After being under staffed for a lengthy period, the Santa Barbara Police Department has no filled all but two of its 142 positions. (Noozhawk file photo)

On Tuesday, the Santa Barbara Police Department updated the City Council on recruitment, its student noise-violation program and auto-theft crimes.

Of the department’s 142 positions, 140 are currently filled, with two more vacancies expected in the next six months, said Capt. Todd Stoney.

Twenty-one of those 140 are still in some phase of training, he added.

“We’re moving in the right direction. We’re excited about that,” Stoney said.

The department is also preparing to extend final job offers to candidates for the SBPD’s Student Neighborhood Assistance Program, where college students are first responders to noise complaints in the Mesa neighborhood by Santa Barbara City College.

The idea is that students throwing loud parties are more receptive when peers are providing a warning the first time, as opposed to when an officer is handing down an immediate citation. The program is also intended to provide officers more opportunity to address more-pressing calls.

The pilot program kicks off at the start of SBCC’s spring semester in January, after new hires’ job training, Stoney said.

Though Santa Barbara is overall a safe community, Capt. Alex Altavilla added, car theft remains a concern.

“What we call burglary theft from vehicle has trended up over the last two years,” he told the council.

The only noticeable trend, he said, has been that burglarized cars tend to be unlocked and the stolen valuables tend to be in plain sight.

Avoiding both those mistakes is the best way to avoid theft, he said.

During their presentation, the captains were also asked by council members about the SBPD’s immigration policies.

Last week, Police Chief Lori Luhnow released a statement saying the department’s policies related to immigration enforcement have not changed as a result of the Nov. 8 presidential election, and that the SBPD “is committed to protecting everyone’s rights, regardless of immigration status.”

Altavilla agreed with the suggestion from public speakers at Tuesday’s meeting that Luhnow’s statement should be translated into Spanish and disseminated in the community.

“Our immigration policy has not changed at all,” he said. “We want anybody in the community we’re sworn to go ahead and protect to give us a call — whether they’re undocumented or not. We are not interested in their immigration status.”

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman 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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