A report released by a grand jury criticizing the Isla Vista Foot Patrol and labeled it as having “misguided policy and lax leadership” has sparked some controversy among those whom it criticized.
The report, released last week, was compiled by Santa Barbara County Civil Grand Jury as required by California law. It was authored by the Criminal Justice Committee, and says the IVFP has not strictly enforced certain laws, such as the zero-tolerance law and noise ordinances. The report also says the IVFP has not maintained order in I.V. Some Isla Vistans, however, say the committee misrepresented the IVFP.
“The foot patrol has been very proactive. I think the accusations that they have been lax are false. They didn’t talk to anyone in I.V.,” said I.V. Recreation and Park District Treasurer Diane Conn. “I challenge the people who are complaining to come forward. It is someone who doesn’t live here and has another agenda.”
Grand Jury Foreman Bill Anderson said members of the committee sat in on IVFP briefings, shadowed officers on beach patrol, and visited I.V. five times in a two and a half-month period. One of those visits occurred during Halloween, during which 8 of 10 committee members observed the IVFP.
“They did an outstanding job,” Anderson said. “They looked at the situation in depth and searched out to find the best ways to make recommendations for their findings.”
The Grand Jury compiled the report in accordance with the California Penal Code. The law requires the jury to do an annual inspection of the county’s jails and police forces. Among the other entities that the report made recommendations for were the main jail facility, the minimum security detection facility known as “the Honor Farm,” the coroner’s office and the municipal police departments. Anderson said the criticisms of the IVFP were not the emphasis of the report, but only one section.
“The IVFP is just a minor part of the report. People tend to lose focus. The portion makes up a page and a half of a 14 page report,” Anderson said.
Among the findings and recommendations, the report noted that often holiday and weekend celebrations are often followed by “a huge amount of rubbish to be cleaned up at taxpayer expense.” The report recommended that probationers or inmates from juvenile hall or the Honor Farm performing community service for should instead provide this service.
District Attorney Thomas W. Sneddon, Jr. said although this recommendation is plausible, overextended county resources have prevented its implementation.
“The reason this hasn’t been done before is that the probation administrator has three contracts for community service. You can’t just send someone somewhere,” Sneddon said. “That’s not to say it shouldn’t be done.”