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SBPD hires students to respond to Mesa area noise complaints

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SBPD hires students to respond to Mesa area noise complaints

Courtesy of the City of Santa Barbara

Courtesy of the City of Santa Barbara

Courtesy of the City of Santa Barbara

Courtesy of the City of Santa Barbara

David Sjostedt, Channels Staff

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Without any form of protection, armed only with their communication skills, the officers of the Student Neighborhood Assistance Program, or SNAP, are up till 3 a.m educating their peers and writing parking tickets so police officers can focus on higher level crimes.

The Santa Barbara Police Department hires college students as unsworn officers so respond to parking tickets and noise complaints around City College neighborhoods so that police officers can focus on more serious calls.

“With the SNAP program there, you’re going to get a student employee who can relate, they’re probably about your same age, maybe he goes to the same school, and he most likely has attended the same parties,” said Detective Bryan Jensen who oversees the program.  

Only college students with a GPA of 2.0 or higher are eligible to be SNAP officers, and the hourly wage is $22.50 an hour.  

The idea was implemented about a year ago and was adopted from Cal Poly Slo, where the program has seen considerable success.

“They’ve been doing it a long time so they have a lot of the kinks worked out,” Jensen said. “The students up there all know about SNAP, it’s a part of the culture there.”

The Santa Barbara division decided to apply the program about a year ago because of the abundance of noise complaints centered around City College.

“There aren’t any dorms on city college campus, but the students have to live somewhere,” Jensen said. “You end up with this neighborhood where people aren’t in sync,” referring to City College students and families occupying much of the same streets.

Before the SNAP program was implemented in Santa Barbara, Jensen said that an officer “might have to go from a stabbing call to a loud party call. You literally go out of that call and you have to flip a switch and go on to the next one.”  

“To the neighbors that are calling it in and trying to sleep, that’s the most important crime in the city to them,” he continued. “But wouldn’t it be better if the officer didn’t have to resort to writing misdemeanor citations for disturbing the peace?”

That’s where the SNAP officers come in.  

“I like to walk up with a smile on my face,” said Jesus Loeza a SNAP officer from City College. “Right away for most cases it just turns into a light conversation.”   

Jensen explained this method of policing by saying, “Their whole focus is on education.”

“I’m not necessarily looking for people that want to be officers,” he said. “If someone wants to go off and be a lawyer, teacher, or a doctor this is still a good job.”

“Its great for the resume,” Loeza said. “It shows that you’re ultra-reliable and can handle a lot of responsibility.”

“I don’t hire people for snap that want to be police officers and are going to be super aggressive,” said Christine Wallace, the neighborhood outreach manager for San Luis Obispo Police Department (SLOPD).  

This is what makes SNAP successful, and although Loeza admits that it can be hard on the body, he said it’s a really cool job because “you never know what you’re going to get.”  

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SBPD hires students to respond to Mesa area noise complaints