SPPD: Part II offenses down significantly, but that’s not always good

March 23, 2012
Santa Paula Police Department

Even with the loss of Santa Paula Police Department personnel the number of Part II offenses dropped significantly, but that is one decrease not always welcomed by law enforcement agencies.

Part II Crime offenses are those that are stopped due to officer initiated activity, and although lower numbers could mean incidents are occurring less it’s more likely officers don’t have the time to find more. 

The category’s offenses include recovered/finding those in possession of stolen property (13 such incidents reported for 2011), narcotics/drug violations (255 last year), weapon violations (168), warrant arrests (338), drunk driving (123), drunk in public (47), liquor law violations (25), and misdemeanor traffic violations (63), for a total of 1,032 Part II offenses reported for 2011. 

With the record high of 34 sworn officers about two years ago now down to 26, deep clerical/record-keeping staff reductions, and the sharp loss of two of the three community service officers used to supplement officers on non-emergency calls, the SPPD is way below staffing levels. The single remaining community service officer has to devote at least 50 percent of their full-time position to tracking drug and sex offenders. 

Taking a hard hit due to the lack of SPPD personnel are traffic stops: in 2011 there were 2,123 citations for violations; in 2009, when SPPD was at optimum staffing, the number was a whopping 3,993. And each traffic stop could lead to an arrest if the officer has the time to 

“look beyond the ticket,” a program that functions on the knowledge that people who break traffic laws often also break the law in other areas. Being the scofflaw for the small things can also apply to the bigger things such as weapon possession, open alcohol containers and stolen property, among other crimes. 

When staffed up SPPD officers, after making the initial traffic stop, look beyond the ticket. If it turns out the driver is a documented gang member or on probation, the law allows the officer to search the vehicle where evidence of criminal activity is uncovered. Now the SPPD lacks enough personnel for such proactive policing.

And that includes stopping drunk drivers: in 2010 three officers and the SPPD itself were honored on the local level by Mothers Against Drunk Drivers. Officer Randy Haumann was also honored by MADD with a state award for his record of DUI arrests.

MADD noted that in 2008 the SPPD had arrested 179 suspected drunk drivers; in 2009, 215 people were arrested for suspicion of being drunk at the wheel. In 2011 there was only 123 arrests for suspicion of DUI. 

Also in 2011, the SPPD reported 16 accidents involving DUI and 26 reported hit-and-runs. There were 104 traffic accidents on public streets, two accidents involving a city vehicle. There were no fatal accidents in Santa Paula. Last year SPPD officers took 119 accident reports, ordered 622 vehicles towed, responded to 499 false alarms, and transported 643 of the total 1,093 persons arrested in 2011 to Ventura County Jail.

The SPPD maintains crime statistics compiled under the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) that are submitted both to the State and F.B.I. for comparison to other cities statewide and nationally. The SPPD is also required to report more serious Part I Crimes such as murder, assault, rape and theft, among others.

The high point of reported Part I Crimes occurred in 2002, when there were 907 incidents. The next year there was a 32.96 percent drop reported (to 608 incidents), but thereafter the number crept up, although it only hit the 800 range twice - in 2007 and again in 2008. Part I Crime decreased in 2011 by 4.88 percent, 2010 by 14.9 percent, and by 15.03 in 2009, a combined 34.81 percent decrease in the crime rate over a three-year reporting period.

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