Butch Arnoldi, the longest-running lieutenant in Isla Vista Foot Patrol history, spent his last day in the station yesterday.
Arnoldi was reassigned as lieutenant of the Carpinteria Sheriff’s Station and was replaced by Carpinteria’s former lieutenant, Russell Bircham. Arnoldi, who has been with the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Dept. for 20 years, and Bircham, a 24-year veteran of the dept., were transferred due to departmental policy, which requires sheriff’s lieutenant’s to switch stations approximately every two years.
Sheriff Jim Thomas, who has worked with both men since the early 1970s, said the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Dept. has received letters from both the I.V. and Carpinteria communities requesting the lieutenants stay in their respective communities since the transfers were announced last year.
"Butch stayed here a year longer than usual. If we leave someone somewhere too long, they lose a sense of the other parts of the community, and if they want to [move to other parts of the dept.] they don’t have that sense," Thomas said. "Butch is intense. Russ is more laid back, but both get the job done in their own ways."
Bircham said he intends to draw on his experiences as both a parent and a law enforcement officer, and will continue the programs Arnoldi has instated, including the "Fall Education Program," which focuses on stricter policy enforcement during the first two months of school.
"I’m going to try to continue what Butch Arnoldi’s done out here. There’s always the question of alcohol and I think there’s a way to do it. I know for a lot of kids it’s their first time out of the house, and they find freedom and there are a lot abusing alcohol. I think the program Butch has worked out here has been successful," he said. "Having never worked here, I don’t know what to expect, but I have raised three children and gone through college with them. It’s going to be a challenge … and I’m looking forward to it."
Arnoldi said he has seen Isla Vista change for the better since he came to IVFP in 1997.
"The community as a whole has been more civil and more respectful toward each other, which is just as important to law enforcement as anything else. The diversity out here is tremendous and I’ve seen the [respect] pendulum swing. IVFP is a small part of it and we’re fortunate to be," he said. "I’m going to go down there and get involved in Carpinteria, Montecito and Summerland. It will be a challenge down south and I look forward to it."
UCSB Dean of Students Yonie Harris said Arnoldi’s community involvement has been instrumental in keeping I.V. safe and he will be missed.
"I’ve really appreciated how constant his presence has been – he’s everywhere. He gives information, speaks his mind and demonstrates real concern for the community and understands it in many ways," she said. "There’s no place like [I.V.] and you have to understand that and appreciate that. Arnoldi does. It’s a great place with a lot of life, and there are challenges when a place is so active and vivid. There are challenges to keep it safe. Arnoldi understands the dynamics."