After two years at the helm of the Isla Vista Foot Patrol, Lt. Tom McKinny stepped down last week to accept a new position with Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Dept. Court Services.

His replacement, Sol Linver, will spend his first full day in charge today, dealing with issues like high population density and frequent alcohol-fueled partying that make police work in I.V. unique.

“I’m looking forward to [working in I.V.] because of its uniqueness,” Linver said. “I’ve been out there almost every Halloween and I understand the current issues and the coming issues.”

A 20-year sheriff’s department veteran, Linver, 43, served as a deputy in I.V. from 1987 to 1988. Since then, he has held a variety of positions within the department, including stints as a senior deputy in Goleta and as a sergeant in the department’s forensics bureau.

Most recently, before his promotion to lieutenant, Linver spent the past year supervising the department’s systems and technology bureau, which combats computer and electronic crime.

Linver said he has always liked the IVFP because its officers get to work within the same community. He said he will spend his initial time at the station observing how its current staff operates.

“Right now I’m going to sit back and see what’s going on,” Linver said. “My understanding is that things are running very well right now. There’s a very good crew out here – they’re very experienced. They know their job out here better than I do.”

Linver said his assignment to the foot patrol was part of a normal transition within the sheriff’s department.

“McKinny had expressed interest to see another part of the department,” Linver said. “Since I’m the new lieutenant, I got to come out here.”

McKinny said his promotion to Court Services will have him overseeing the county’s bailiffs and courtroom security personnel, including those at the Santa Maria Superior Courthouse in northern Santa Barbara County, where preliminary hearings for the Michael Jackson case are underway. Hearings that the singer and members of his family have attended have attracted crowds numbering in the hundreds outside the courthouse.

“I’ve had good training from I.V. in dealing with large numbers of people,” McKinny said.

McKinny served in I.V. as a foot patrol officer from 1983 to 1986 and as a detective in 1992. In 2002, he returned as a lieutenant to head the Pardall Road station.

Among the Foot Patrol’s accomplishments under his tenure, McKinny said the department’s receipt of $150,000 in grant money from the state Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control and the institution of new regulations governing alcohol use in local parks were some of the largest.

“On a management level, I wouldn’t say this is one of the most difficult places to work,” McKinny said. “But it’s the most demanding in the sheer numbers of people, parties, crime and violations – there’s a lot more activity.”

He said he is “extremely” proud of all the officers who work at the station, and that it will be important for his successor to maintain the station’s open-door policy and good rapport with students. He also said he will stay involved in preparations for Halloween 2004, which he has already begun.

“We’re not trying to make [I.V.] a police state,” McKinny said. “We’re trying to make it a safer place to live, go to school and to have a good time. I think we all need to work together to achieve that goal.”