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Santa Barbara Police Department Swears in 9 New Officers to Make Dent in Vacancies

New Police Chief Lori Luhnow says 11 more recruits are heading into the academy soon

Santa Barbara City College graduate and Norrköping, Sweden, native Michaela Bebernes signs an oath on honor at the Santa Barbara City Police Department swearing-in ceremony on Thursday. Click to view larger
Santa Barbara City College graduate and Norrköping, Sweden, native Michaela Bebernes signs an oath on honor at the Santa Barbara City Police Department swearing-in ceremony on Thursday.  (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

As the Santa Barbara City Police Department tries to fill its many open positions, nine officers were sworn into the department Thursday. 

“We haven’t seen this many people (graduate at once) from the academy in a long time,” Police Chief Lori Luhnow said. “This is a gift for the organization and the city.”

Luhnow welcomed Adam Mik, Bobby Shen, Jesse Sedeno, Lewis Craparotta, Michaela Bebernes, Rudy Ramirez, Scott McBeth, Thomas Diefenthaler and Zane Velasquez to the force. 

Bebernes, a Santa Barbara City College graduate and new SBPD officer, stood with a smile beside her graduates at the ceremony held at the Santa Barbara Jury Assembly Room.

The Norrköping, Sweden native said she is excited to start working in the community.

“I look forward to applying what was learned in the academy and serving the community,” Bebernes said.

Eleven new recruits will start the police academy in the upcoming weeks, Luhnow said.

The addition of the officers bring the police department to 16 vacant spots, Luhnow said at City Council meeting on Oct. 4.

Nine Santa Barbara police officers were sworn into the department on Thursday. Click to view larger
Nine Santa Barbara police officers were sworn into the department on Thursday.  (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

After staffing shortages this year, the department had 143 positions available and 126 filled in March. It has struggled for years to fill vacancies, particularly with a high level of retirements and personnel out on injury leave.

Officers on some assignments, such as beat coordinators and the downtown nightlife enforcement, were reassigned to patrol to make up for short staffing. 

The department currently has one vacant spot — the deputy chief position — which will not be filled, Luhnow said.

Luhnow eliminated the deputy chief position and is using the budget towards two computer programs.

One program will be used to track crime analysis and the other to conduct mandated reporting training that will accumulate use of force by officers, she said.

Once the new members begin, Luhnow said 29 percent of SBPD officers will have spent one year or less with the department.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland 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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