The Isla Vista Community Services District voted Tuesday to finalize a contract with UC Santa Barbara Police Department that would provide funding for an interpersonal violence investigator.
The completion of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) comes more than one year after it was first discussed at the I.V. Community Services District’s (CSD) first meeting in March 2017.
The contract will require UC Santa Barbara Police Department (UCPD) to designate a peace officer as a full time investigator with “the purpose of working directly with survivors, suspects and witnesses to investigate interpersonal violence-related crimes [in Isla Vista],” according to the MOU.
The investigator will be required to work with the CSD to provide preventative services against interpersonal violence, including community education and outreach, in addition to services which respond to such cases.
Funding for the two-year program totals $101,334 and is expected to come from the $200,000 contribution made by UCSB to the CSD. The board motioned to authorize the general manager to request funding from the university to cover the program.
The finalization of the MOU encountered a minor hurdle during the meeting due to concerns about the contract phrasing which stipulated the investigator “be the primary point of contact for all such investigations occurring within the boundaries of the District.”
A representative from the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office (SBSO) who was present during the meeting reported that the language in the MOU would create an interference with services and jurisdiction of the SBSO.
“We just need to work through this to make sure we are not subverting the primary jurisdiction of the Sheriff and that we are not supplanting the services that are already provided by the Sheriff as it relates to these investigations,” he said.
Campus Advocacy, Resources & Education (C.A.R.E.) Director Brianna Conway countered their concerns, saying the inclusion of the term “primary point of contact” provided an essential element to the position of the investigator.
“What that does is tell survivors that the first person they tell [their] story to is gonna be the person that stays with [their] case throughout the duration… and really provide that continuity in care in that response,” Conway said during the public comment period.
Several I.V. CSD directors agreed with Conway’s suggestions, adding that these were consistent with the intended model of the program.
However, UCPD would be in charge of implementation of such policy practices during the operalization of the investigator position, according to I.V. CSD Board President Ethan Bertrand.
Several organizations have pushed for the implementation of an interpersonal violence investigator in I.V., including Students Against Sexual Assault (SASA), C.A.R.E, UCPD and the I.V. CSD.
Members of SASA who were present at Tuesday’s meeting were glad to see the fulfillment of a program that was under discussion for over a year.
“It’s been a long conversation… We’re very happy to see that the needs to the community and the need for the localization of the resource being finally represented in the MOU,” SASA President Emily Montalvo-Telford said.
Bertrand also expressed similar sentiments of both hope and happiness at the long-awaited implementation of an interpersonal violence survivor service in Isla Vista
“This will be successful. This is really about serving our community, making it a safer place and us, Isla Vista’s local government, saying that we believe survivors, that we stand with survivors and that time’s up,” Bertrand said.
Right before making the official motion to finalize the contract, Bertrand recounted the I.V. CSD’s first meeting, in which an attendee shared her experience of being a survivor of sexual assault in Isla Vista.
“The most important comment that I heard that night was… about the experiences of so many survivors in this community and it’s those experiences that really make me happy that we’re taking this action here,” Bertrand said, tearing up during the meeting.
“There’s too many people getting hurt in this community. There’s no perfect way to solve it but this is a really good step and I’m just grateful that we’re taking it.”
Sofia Mejias-Pascoe is an assistant news editor. She likes to read The New York Times, Washington Post and the tiny blurbs underneath random bottlecaps. She is a proponent of the term “YOLO.”