Tuesday, August 21 , 2018, 11:16 pm | Fair 68º


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Santa Barbara Police Chief Discusses Prop 64, Immigration, Homelessness

Lori Luhnow participates in forum sponsored by several community organizations

Santa Barbara Police Chief Lori Luhnow, left, Santa Barbara Youth council member Cindy Diaz, and Westside Community Group of Santa Barbara member Donn Longstreet at a community forum Monday night. Click to view larger
Santa Barbara Police Chief Lori Luhnow, left, Santa Barbara Youth council member Cindy Diaz, and Westside Community Group of Santa Barbara member Donn Longstreet at a community forum Monday night. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

Proposition 64, police misconduct, President-elect Donald Trump’s immigration policy, and homelessness were topics tackled by Santa Barbara Police Chief Lori Luhnow at a community forum Monday night.

More than 50 community members gathered at the Louise Lowry Davis Center in downtown Santa Barbara to voice their concerns and questions.

Luhnow answered more than 10 questions posed by youth, community groups, nonprofits and community members.

“The main goal of this organization is building a community,” Luhnow said of her department. “We are committed to moving forward with a trust and respect policy.”

Prop 64, which made it legal for individuals to use and grow marijuana for personal consumption beginning Nov. 9, was among the subjects discussed.

“I’m scared about this one—mainly for the increase in vehicle fatalities,” Luhnow said. “We will be increasing our staffing and traffic division, specifically because of the issues we have and with Prop 64. Traffic safety is important.”

Luhnow said she supports an independent civilian review board to exam allegations of police misconduct.

She noted that preliminary plans are in the making to create an advisory committee to help with policy implementation and review.

“I have no problem sharing results about misconduct,” she said. “I’m not afraid of what we do and not afraid to say we need training, if required, or if we made a mistake. Fortunately, we don’t have a lot (of misconduct).”

Luhnow discussed the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Section 287, also known as the Immigration and Nationality Act.

This act authorizes ICE to enter into agreements with local and state law enforcement and allows designated officers to perform immigration law enforcement functions.

Luhnow said the policing policy is not to act as ICE.

“We will maintain our current procedures, which means we don’t look at immigration status as we do our job in policing the community,” Luhnow said. “Our focus is that everyone is safe and feels we will ensure our commitment to them.”

Luhnow received a round-of-applause after her answer.

She was asked if local authorities will refuse or choose to cooperate with Trump’s deportation plan.

The question asked, “Will or how will SBPD work with federal authorities, if and when the president-elect orders the round-up and deportation of the undocumented population?”

“We have no business doing it, it’s not right, and we aren’t going to work well with federal guideline asking for deportation,” Luhnow said. “We are selective with the federal enforcement because we have a vision on the outlook of our community. I don’t see us going there, and we are not going to do anything different.”

Luhnow said she has a feeling council members will fight to apply local ordinances.

“I’m worried about the undocumented students in our school district,” Councilwoman Cathy Murillo said. “California is different and I’m going to have a lot of faith in our state and city authority.”

Another question asked, “How will you handle the presence of homeless people in Santa Barbara in a respectful and considerate way?”

Luhnow said she plans to continue working with advocacy groups.

“Homelessness gets brought to the Police Department as a challenge, when it truly shouldn’t be,” Luhnow said. “My expectations for all officers is to treat everyone with dignity and respect. I won’t tolerate anything less.”

Luhnow appeared alongside  Sgt. Rashun Drayton at the event.

Drayton answered a question raised about issuing citations to homeless individuals when people are sleeping or camping in public spaces.

“Generally with those calls we are responding to the numerous reports from the community,” Drayton said. “They call us and we respond. We aren’t out to target homeless people, but we do have a duty to make the community feel safe.”

He said officers are conscious when approaching homeless individuals.

“Crimes are going to be associated with the homelessness, but we aren’t going to target the homeless,” Drayton said. “We are mindful with those contacts, and if there is enforcement to be taken, we will generally take it.”

Another issue mentioned was the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities.

“If there’s something we can do, we will be there at the table and supporting them,” she said.

The event was sponsored by members of the Santa Barbara Youth Council, the Westside Community Group of Santa Barbara, Worth Street Reach, PATH and the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE).

“People want to get involved and want to be producing and ensure we have a safe community,” said Frank Rodriguez from CAUSE.

Westside Community Group of Santa Barbara member Donn Longstreet and Santa Barbara Youth council member Cindy Diaz were the event moderators. 

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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