Monday, May 28 , 2018, 1:01 am | Fair 58º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Santa Barbara Police Say Meth, Pot Use on the Rise

Methamphetamine and marijuana use is on the rise in Santa Barbara, and may be tied to a spree of residential and auto burglaries, according to the Santa Barbara Police Department

Meth use is up possibly because of its relatively low cost on the street compared to heroin and cocaine, Sgt. Alex Altavilla said during a recent City Council budget hearing

"Santa Barbara is a really, really beautiful place, but we always recommend that you go ahead and lock your home when you leave," Altavilla said. "And when you leave your car, try not to leave anything inside that's in plain view, and go ahead and lock your vehicle, too."

Heroin right now is $1,000 to $1,200 an ounce, Altavilla said.

"Methamphetamine is $350 to $500 an ounce, which it makes it something everyone is kind of interested in because of the low cost," he said. 

Santa Barbara experienced 21 unusual residential burglaries between Feb. 3 and March 6.

"We do know that there is a subset of people that use narcotics that actually go out and do burglaries," Altavilla said. 

He also noted that applications for marijuana dispensaries are on the rise.

Altavilla was one of the several speakers who gave updates during the Police Department and Fire Department budget presentations. 

The department is also struggling to increase its staffing levels.

"We're hurting for people," Police Chief Cam Sanchez said.

The Police Department is down between nine and 12 employees from injuries, he said.

Sanchez also temporarily suspended the use of a school resource officer. 

"I feel the pain of not having a school resource officer, but to deplete patrol would not be a good thing," Sanchez said. 

The department has seven vacancies and expects to lose about seven more through retirements or to other police departments, according to Capt. Gil Torres.

He said he hopes to hire 15 people out of the police academy over the course of the next year. 

Torres said the Police Department is competing with heavy recruitment efforts from places such as the Ventura County Sheriff's Department, which advertises starting salaries of $75,000 to $105,000, about $14,000 higher than the Santa Barbara Police Department at the high end. 

Fire Department officials also spoke at the meeting, with Fire Chief Pat McElroy saying the department is looking to improve its 9-1-1 dispatch efforts by installing a computerized version of the existing flip chart that allows dispatchers to quickly offer assistance on how to treat the person calling. 

McElroy also said the department wants to develop a Spanish-language certified training program to increase accessibility to the Spanish-speaking community. 

He said the volume of Spanish-speaking calls is "not an insignificant number." He also said that many of the calls that come in are from European tourists.

"We have a tremendous amount of people from Europe, from all over the world, especially during high tourism season," McElroy said. "There's a lot of languages we are running across."

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina 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.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Supporter

Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >