Monday, September 26 , 2016, 5:24 am | Fair 61º

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Local News

Santa Barbara Police Chief Backtracks on Burglary Statistics

Impact of state prisoners on crime rates much less than he told City Council

One of Santa Barbara Police Chief Cam Sanchez’s most significant statements at this week’s City Council meeting was untrue, Noozhawk has learned.

Sanchez said the early release of state prisoners through realignment has contributed to higher crime rates in the city, particularly with property crimes.

Specifically, he said that 50 percent of November’s burglary arrests involved people who would have still been in prison custody if not for realignment.

That number drew the attention not only of local residents, but other law-enforcement agencies in Santa Barbara County.

Santa Barbara police re-evaluated their data, and found that Sanchez misspoke, said Sgt. Riley Harwood, a department spokesman.

In truth, police data show an average of one in six burglary arrests — or 16.66 percent — that involve realignment suspects, Harwood said.

“We apologize for any confusion or misstatement of fact that this comment has caused,” he said.

In October, one residential burglary suspect, out of five total arrests, was involved with realignment.

“In November, we had one residential burglary arrest, and (the suspect) wasn’t AB 109, but was out on bail from County Jail,” Harwood said. “We had seven commercial burglary arrests — not including shoplifting — and one of those guys was AB 109.”

The source of the misstatement apparently came from an unrelated statistic. When police do compliance checks on realignment subjects’ homes, the searches result in arrests 50 percent of the time, according to Harwood.

The Police Department collaborates with the county Probation Department to do compliance checks for the state prisoners released back into the community through realignment.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, Sanchez noted that December was a rough month for police, with 52 burglary crimes reported.

Police are shifting around resources to deal with the influx of property crimes.

The Criminal Impact Team — which looks at career criminals and crime trends — was boosted to four officers and a supervisor from two officers, and three officers were shifted to help Sgt. Dan McGrew in the property crimes unit.

Patrol and investigative units won’t be affected, but more proactive programs that deal with homeless people, traffic and community-oriented policing could be, Harwood said.

“One of the reasons why we have to devote our resources to things like the Criminal Impact Team is because other agencies like probation or parole, and I’m not faulting them, they just don’t have the ability to do these compliance checks all on their own,” Harwood said.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli 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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