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Local News

Santa Barbara Police Out in Force During Fiesta Revelry

The city has budgeted $425,000 to pay for extra patrols during the celebration

More than 100 additional law enforcement officers will patrol the streets of Santa Barbara during this year's Old Spanish Days Fiesta celebration.

The Santa Barbara Police Department has budgeted an additional $425,000 to pay for extra law enforcement costs — much of it for overtime.

The department will get help from Santa Barbara County sheriff's deputies, and law enforcement personnel from Ventura, Oxnard, Lompoc and Santa Maria.

Officers will attempt to "identify troublemakers early," said Sgt. Riley Harwood, a spokesman for the Santa Barbara Police Department. "We will make sure that we maintain a very visible presence. We try to set the tone early with regards to law enforcement efforts. We make a lot of pedestrian contacts."

The increased law enforcement comes on the heels of the recent court ruling against a proposed gang injunction in Santa Barbara. The city had asked the court to implement an injunction to help reduce gang violence in the city.

Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Colleen Sterne, however, ruled against the injunction, which would have placed limits on where some members of Eastside and Westside gangs could be and with whom they could associate.

Sterne ruled that "Santa Barbara is not a community beset by substantial and unreasonable gang-related interference with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property by an entire community or neighborhood, or any considerable number of persons."

Old Spanish Days Fiesta is Santa Barbara's largest celebration and typically draws tens of thousands of locals and people from out of the area. It also attracts members of rival gangs on the Eastside and Westside, and from Ventura, Oxnard, Lompoc and other areas.

"We have had serious gang problems during Fiesta over the years," Harwood said, adding that the department will beef up law enforcement numbers for Friday's Fiesta Historical Parade and the downtown area, particularly during the evening when more of the "drinking crowd" is present. "The volume of officers we have increases throughout the week. he level of activity peaks on Friday and Saturday nights."

Harwood said every year is different in terms of gang presence.

"I can't predict what the gang members and the gang leadership are going to do," Harwood said. "I hope they don't elect to cause problems. I assure you if they do, we will react quickly."

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.

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