IslaVista residents discussed public safety with I.V. Foot Patrol Lt. Russ Birchim at a Town Hall meeting Thursday night.
Approximately 40 people, representing both UCSB and I.V., gathered at the University Religious Center on Camino Pescadero to learn about plans to enhance safety and improve the quality of life in the community. Third District Supervisor Gail Marshall arranged the meeting.
Birchim reported 1,437 arrests and citations for the fall period stretching from Sept. 9 to Nov. 11, down from last fall’s 1,764 incidents.
“There were fewer cops patrolling this year, so that may account for the fewer arrests somewhat,” he said. “If you look at who is being arrested, 427 of them were UCSB students and 203 were from Santa Barbara City College.”
The remaining arrests and citations involved 322 students from other colleges, 24 high school students and non-students such as visiting military personnel, who accounted for approximately 30 arrests, Birchim said.
Meeting participants also voiced concern about the effects of couch burning on the newly paved, or soon-to-be paved, I.V. streets. Bircham said incidents of flaming furniture used to occur 20 or 30 times in a month, but only a few incidents have been reported since the beginning of Fall Quarter.
“It is costly. The fire does ruin the asphalt and kids run over the screws [from the couches] with their cars,” he said. “But couch burning has decreased over the years.”
A few attendees were concerned about IVFP officers who “overstep their boundaries.” Birchim said that in many cases, citizens who feel Foot Patrol officers have violated their rights are simply upset that they have been arrested.
“There are two sides to every story and, in Isla Vista, I’ve learned there are often three or four. But often, these cases turn out to be nothing,” he said. “If someone wants to complain, they can come to the Foot Patrol [office] and fill out a complaint form or ask to speak with a supervisor.”
Marshall said she was pleased with turnout at the meeting.
“Isla Vista has some great people living in it and when they get together, we can work to chip away one or two of the issues [regarding public safety],” she said.