The Associated Students Office of the External Vice President of Local Affairs (EVPLA) hosted a community meeting in the Isla Vista Clinic Thursday evening to discuss the appointment of a community resource deputy (CRD) for I.V.
The meeting was an open-invitation event lead by EVPLA Paola Dela Cruz to discuss the qualities and skills of an ideal CRD. Interviews led by a panel of three deputies and two community members for the three potential candidates will begin July 23.
EVPLA Public Safety Director Duncan Calvert said the community members on the panel were not allowed to ask questions, but will be included in the process of choosing the CRD from among the applicants.
“In creating the questions, we left them vague to allow them to do as much research as they possibly can before attending the interview,” Calvert said. “That really lets us see how their mindset is and how they see policing communities and how it especially ties in with Isla Vista.”
Dela Cruz said the purpose of the meeting was to develop a general consensus on what qualities are desirable in candidates and to expand on what the CRD position requires to better serve the community.
“Ultimately, I want this conversation to be a part of the larger process of the community resource deputy,” Dela Cruz said. “We want to hear back from what you want from this position so the panel can mention to the candidates that this is what the community needs from you.”
According to I.V. long-term resident Pegeen Soutar, the CRD officer should be sensitive to the community’s needs. Soutar said an example of this awareness of the uniqueness of I.V. is a case where she saw police officers call in a professional to speak with an intoxicated young man instead of arresting him.
“You can tell the attitude of the young man changed instantly when he had the chance to talk about his problems,” Soutar said. “And for me, that’s community policing.”
Dela Cruz said it is up to the community members at these meetings to decide what type of work and how many hours will be dedicated to duties the CRD is responsible for, including attending workshops and trainings.
“We are the ones who can say, ‘Can you please come to this workshop or this training in diversity?’” Dela Cruz said. “It really is up to us to decide what this individual will be doing in the community.”
Dela Cruz said due to discrimination laws, the phrase “bilingual preferred” could not be included in the job description because the ability to fluently speak a language is considered a skill.
“I discussed it with [I.V. Foot Patrol] Lieutenant [Rob] Plastino, and that is something you are not allowed to put on,” Dela Cruz said. “But if it came down that — all the candidates had the same amount of experience — and that made one stand out in particular, he would choose that person.”
I.V. Food Cooperative Manager Melissa Cohen said the nature of the CRD position will attract applicants who “genuinely” want to help the community and are not just applying for a small salary raise.
“It takes a certain type of person to even apply for this position,” Cohen said. “I think we can hold hope that there will be people who got into police work because they feel strongly about this. Our lieutenant feels quite strongly about it.”
Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office volunteer Chaplain Father Jon-Stephen Hedges said he agrees the officers who apply for the CRD position are those who want to improve the community.
“Those who stepped up to the table are those who want to be here,” Hedges said. “They will definitely take some heat from their coworkers who would not step up for this kind of thing.”
Calvert said he hopes the CRD will make committees and teams to help address different issues in I.V., especially those between students and police.
“There is a disconnect between students and the police force,” Calvert said. “The more interaction we can get between the two will alleviate a lot of the bad things that happen and will help build a stronger community.”