Capt. Jeff Sgobba, a 19-year veteran of the California Highway Patrol, recently returned to Santa Barbara to take over as commander of the Santa Barbara CHP office.
On Nov. 1, Sgobba replaced Capt. Cliff Williams, who assumed command of the Moorpark CHP office after working at the Santa Barbara CHP branch for just one year and 10 months. Sgobba said he considers Isla Vista a top priority and believes his personal experience working as an officer in the area will benefit local students and residents.
As a longtime local resident of Santa Barbara – where he began his career – Sgobba said he is excited about working in the area again.
“I’ve lived in Santa Barbara County for a long time,” Sgobba said. “I’m just glad to be back.”
Sgobba joined the CHP in 1985. After two years of working as an officer in Santa Barbara, he was promoted to sergeant. He was later transferred to the Buellton area and then to San Louis Obispo, where he worked for the CHP Coastal Division.
In 2002, Sgobba was promoted to captain and was assigned Special Services Commander of the CHP Coastal Division office. He held that position until he took over for Williams at the Santa Barbara office at the beginning of this month.
Sgobba said his familiarity with I.V. and with major events in the area such as Halloween gives him a good perspective on issues that matter most to students.
“I can clearly remember as a young officer working in I.V. with the foot patrol, blocking off roads and directing traffic during Halloween,” Sgobba said.
Officer Don Clotworthy, public information officer for the Santa Barbara branch of the CHP, said he thinks Sgobba’s experience will help the transition period between commanders. He said he believes Sgobba, like Williams, will remain active in the student community and will continue to develop safety programs in the area.
“Practices while [Williams] was here included the grant that we were able to get which addressed residential issues such as pedestrian safety,” Clotworthy said. “It was an educational as well as an enforcement program.”
The pedestrian safety program, Clotworthy said, acquired a $120,000 state grant to prevent drunk driving and to ensure the safety of bike riders and pedestrians in I.V. The grant money went toward tasking an additional CHP patrol car and two officers to the current law enforcement in I.V. on Friday and Saturday nights, Clotworthy said.
Sgobba said he also hopes to coordinate CHP efforts with the Sheriff’s Dept. and the Isla Vista Foot Patrol. He said he advocated building a stronger relationship between the three law enforcement bodies when he worked as a sergeant in Santa Barbara.
“[The IVFP] wanted a joint effort in the late ’80s and early ’90s,” Sgobba said. “I was the one who wrote up a plan for more involvement with them; to supervise the IVFP, making sure we worked the same shifts. I want to be more than just a person who checks into the neighborhood once in a while because it’s right off of the freeway.”
Sgobba said he is always available to talk with I.V. residents and to address any concerns they may have. He said he appreciates the efforts Capt. Williams made to establish a good rapport with students and residents, and he said he plans to continue developing that communication.
“Cliff was pretty involved with meetings [in I.V.], and I want to keep that relationship with the students up,” Sgobba said.
Williams said his new position in Moorpark will be more convenient for him, but he said he enjoyed his time at the Santa Barbara office and will miss working with the community here.
“I’m a resident of Camarillo, so the station I work at now is closer,” Williams said. “It was bittersweet leaving. On one hand, I gave up a great community with people and students I loved working with, but on the other hand, I also gave up a 56-mile commute for a commute that is less than 10 miles.”