In an effort to improve safety, the Isla Vista Community Services District and the UC Santa Barbara Police Department has launched an expanded escort program every weekend night throughout the school year.
IVCSD Board president Ethan Bertrand said starting Oct. 27, UCSB police began staffing student Community Service Organization officers from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. Friday and Saturday at Isla Vista’s Little Acorn Park, on the corner of Embarcadero del Mar and El Embarcadero.
The CSOs offer free escorts to any person who requests the service, including non-student Isla Vista community members and Santa Barbara City College students.
CSO officers will perform walking or biking escort services for people who live in Isla Vista or on the UCSB campus.
The program wraps up in June, but it’s something IVCSD hopes to explore in the future.
“We are focused on keeping this program and making it more accessible,” Bertrand said. “It is unique whereas its focus is out in the community and is serving anyone who needs assistance. We are optimistic about this program and excited to see its potential.”
CSO officers are employed and trained by the UCSB police, according to UCSB Police Chief Dustin Olson.
Seven CSOs will be stationed in Isla Vista, with officers working the safety station, providing escorts, and one more serving as a dispatcher from the UCSB Police Department building.
CSO personnel are dressed in uniform and equipped with a police scanner.
The new program also aims to improve community and police relations by providing a non-enforcement service to the public.
“We are looking to improve community and police relations by involving residents in an effort to co-produce a safer Isla Vista,” Bertrand said.
“This program allows more residents to work side-by-side with first responders — working on public safety. It brings more eyes and ears to the streets on busy nights to help first responders.”
Funding for the $47,000-program comes from the annual $200,000 budget UCSB contributes to the IVCSD.
— Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.