Police department hires student officers to patrol neighborhood

KATHYVAN TRAN, Associate Editor

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The ball on a new student policing program began rolling Wednesday as student officers will now be able to cite noisy Mesa neighbors and residents.

A collaboration between the Santa Barbara Police Department and City College, the Student Neighborhood Assistance Program launched today to combat noise complaints and party issues within the neighborhoods surrounding the college.

“The hope is it’s going to eliminate many of the complaints neighbors have made of people living next to students,” Security Director Eric Fricke said.

The program employs students to patrol the neighborhoods and act as first responders to issue Disturbance Advisory Cards or warnings to noisy residents for first offenses.

“Students appreciate that,” said Sergeant Riley Harwood of the Santa Barbara Police Department in a phone interview. “They prefer that peer to peer contact as opposed to having that first contact with uniformed law enforcement.”

Student officers will be paid $22 per hour and will work 20 hours per week. They will work directly with the police beat coordinator supervisor and under the supervision of the on-duty police department watch commander.

“The department likes that because it’s freeing up police resources for higher priority activity so we have officers responding to services,” Harwood said. “It includes an educational component, one that we will stress during orientations.”

Officers must maintain and enter statistical data for the program as well as provide clerical support. They will also issue parking citations in residential parking districts, attend community and business meetings as directed and appear in court as required.
While parking has been a notorious issue at City College for years, Harwood said he does not believe the parking citation authority will impact students going to and from classes because student officers will not be working during typical school hours. Officers will be working evenings, weekends, and some holidays.

“Sometimes with regards to large parties, parking is kind of a component of that,” he added.

To qualify for the position, candidates must be at least 18 years old, possess a valid California driver’s license and be free of misdemeanor or felony convictions. They must also be enrolled at a local college or university and actively attend courses with a minimum GPA of 2.0 at the time of applying.

“We need someone who is mature, responsible [and] able to work with supervision,” Harwood said.

In February 2016, City College contributed $103,000—which was matched by the police department to kickstart the program.

“It’s something that helps us foster our relationship with City College,” Harwood said.

Inspiration for the program was drawn from a similar one that was established by Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, which has reduced noise complaints by approximately 30 percent since its inception in the early 1990s.

“We would love to see similar results,” Harwood said. “Any improvement would increase the quality of life for those who are impacted by most disturbances.”

Harwood said the department would assess the success of the program if there is a decrease in disturbance calls. Nonetheless, he said the numbers are not as important as is receiving positive feedback from the community.

“The goal is to improve the quality of life for people living here,” Harwood said.

More information about the hiring process and requirements can be found on the Santa Barbara Police Department’s website.

 

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