Grand juries are a funny thing. On the one hand, you have a group of people gathered together to make a ruling to better some aspect of society based on the findings in their published report. On the other hand, you have a group of people given a task that requires some form of knowledge in the area that they’ve been asked to report on. Then there are the special instructions and limited resources they’re given to work with.
In all, grand juries can err on the part of what they report and how it is presented based on their limited information and reach. For the most part, a grand jury is merely an administrative tool for some politico out to make a case for career betterment or out to settle an old score.
And so it is with this that I ask what the hell was the recent Santa Barbara County Grand Jury Report on the Isla Vista Foot Patrol all about?
According to the Grand Jury Report, the I.V. Foot Patrol has let I.V. go to the dogs. They claim that the residents are out of control. They also claim that the methods employed by the foot patrol are ineffective. And this assessment is based on what?
The Grand Jury didn’t do their homework.
For starters, if they had done their homework, they would know that there are much worse areas of town. One of these areas is the Old Town section of Goleta. There, they have it all.
Want to score some smack? Meth? Coke? No problem. Want to see gang activity? There’s plenty there. I.V. is not the only place in Santa Barbara County known for drunken brawls. Old Town has plenty of those as well, compliments of Duffy’s Bar and Grill. It’s no wonder you don’t see many people out at night in Old Town. But let’s look at other parts of the county as well. Take Lompoc for instance – same problems as Old Town, much larger scale. Lompoc is the reason a new jail in the North County has to be looked at. As it currently stands, based on recent statistics, the majority of the Santa Barbara County Jail population happens to be from the North County. Go figure.
These places have “real” crimes that occur on a daily basis. But then again, what is the definition of a “real” crime in the eyes of the Grand Jury? Stupid freshmen getting a minor in possession citation? Drunk in public? Public urination?
Not to make light of any of these charges, but in comparison to the things that go on in other parts of the Santa Barbara Grand Jury’s jurisdiction, these are minimal in nature.
Granted, we do have our share of meatheads and morons and the problems they cause. But the main difference here is that the “crimes” committed by this contingent are generally not malicious in nature.
Not to defend the idiots, but they pose a lesser danger to society than some people in other parts of the city or county. However, we have had our share of bad things happen; but in every case, the Foot Patrol has done their duty to the best of their ability, with the resources available and has done the job effectively.
From the David Attias incident to controlling the Halloween situation to recovering stolen property taken during the breaks when most of us are gone, the I.V. Foot Patrol has done an excellent job in handling matters and usually have a good success rate at catching the bad guys.
And so remains the question: How did the Grand Jury come to the findings on their report? Do any of the Grand Jury members live in the I.V. area? Have they even been to places in this area other than Del Playa or Sabado Tarde on a weekend night? Do they even realize how much work the foot patrol does on a daily basis? Apparently not, based on the report’s findings.
As a 16 year resident of I.V., I have to give the I.V. Foot Patrol major props. They are an effective force and very professional in their approach to matters. In all, they do a difficult job in a very good way and get little respect in the process for a job well done. The Grand Jury report further proves the last statement to be true.
So, to the Santa Barbara Grand Jury I say the following: Do your homework. Maybe the Grand Jury should report on itself. But then again, they might screw that up as well. It has been known to happen; the most recent report on the I.V. Foot Patrol is the proof in the pudding.
Henry Sarria is a longtime I.V. resident.