Law en­force­ment cracks down on crime

Cap­tain: Key to re­duced crime is com­mu­nity in­volve­ment

The Signal - - Front page - By Jim Holt Sig­nal Se­nior Staff Writer

Crime is down, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est num­bers crunched at the Santa Clarita Val­ley Sher­iff’s Sta­tion, and while Capt. Robert Lewis is pleased with the re­sults, he says suc­cess lies in the sta­tion’s co­zier re­la­tion­ship with the com­mu­nity.

With more and more SCV res­i­dents re­spond­ing to the sta­tion’s “See Some­thing, Say Some­thing” cam­paign and alert­ing deputies to sus­pected crimes or crimes in progress, deputies are jump­ing on more op­por­tu­ni­ties to in­ves­ti­gate and make an ar­rest where war­ranted.

About 500 more ar­rests were made in 2018 com­pared to the num­ber of ar­rests made last year — or, 1,800 ar­rests this past year com­pared to 1,300 ar­rests made last year.

With the pro­lif­er­a­tion this past year of home­own­ers in­stalling doorstep video sur­veil­lance tech­nol­ogy, more video im­ages of sus­pi­cious peo­ple are passed along to deputies.

“The big­gest thing to re­mem­ber is that al­though crime is down this year over last year, we don’t want the com­mu­nity

to let their guard down,” Lewis said

Wed­nes­day.

“We want them to con­tinue to be vig­i­lant,” he said.

On Wed­nes­day, Lewis sat down with The Sig­nal to share a num­ber of sug­ges­tions he be­lieves would en­hance the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the Sher­iff’s Depart­ment and the com­mu­nity.

Crimemap­ping

Al­though un­able to pre­dict crime, deputies make am­ple use of tech­nol­ogy to gather in­for­ma­tion, plot it on an SCV map and cal­cu­late where they should fo­cus their at­ten­tion.

If the num­bers show a clus­ter of car bur­glar­ies oc­cur­ing on a par­tic­u­lar street, for ex­am­ple, that’s where deputies would fo­cus their at­ten­tion

Res­i­dents want­ing to know where and how crime un­folds in the SCV can see what the deputies see by go­ing to crimemap­ping.com, which dis­plays cur­rent law en­force­ment data on a map.

“Any­one can log on to crimemap­ping. com and keep track of what’s be­ing re­ported in their com­mu­nity,” said Lt. Ig­na­cio So­moano, who runs the SCV Sher­iff’s Sta­tion’s De­tec­tive Sec­tion.

Deputies use an en­hanced ver­sion of the same crime-map­ping tech­nol­ogy.

“Based on this, we do spe­cial op­er­a­tions,” So­moano said. “We brief some of our 24-hour op­er­a­tions and also some night-time saturation pa­trols.

“We use this map and other re­sources to put strat­egy to­gether, and as­sess crime trends,” he said. “So what we ask the pub­lic to do is be alert, keep an eye out, be vig­i­lant and re­port crimes to the sher­iff’s sta­tion.”

Car bur­glar­ies

One crime trend deputies keep re­spond­ing to lately is the in­crease in car bur­glar­ies.

With the pro­lif­er­a­tion this past year of doorstep video sur­veil­lance cam­eras in­stalled by home­own­ers, an in­creased num­ber of video im­ages de­pict­ing sus­pected bur­glars are be­ing shared with deputies.

In one such video demon­strated by Lewis on Wed­nes­day, car bur­glars are seen walk­ing zom­bie-like down a dark­ened sub­ur­ban street, stop­ping at cars, peer­ing in­side, try­ing the car door, then slowly walk­ing away.

The sim­plest way to re­duce car bur­glar­ies, Lewis said, is to keep your ve­hi­cle locked.

As well, a point deputies can­not stress enough is for res­i­dents to keep noth­ing of value in their ve­hi­cles.

To make his point, Lewis stops the video sur­veil­lance of “car check­ers” to show a bur­glar used the flash­light app on his phone to shine in­side parked ve­hi­cles.

Out-of-town­ers

An­other crime trend iden­ti­fied and ad­dressed is the in­creased num­ber of out-of-town­ers com­ing into the SCV to com­mit crimes such as mail theft and bur­glar­ies.

“We have to stop peo­ple com­ing into the Santa Clarita Val­ley to vic­tim­ize us,” Lewis said. “We’re be­com­ing vic­tims of peo­ple who are com­ing in and com­mit­ting crimes of op­por­tu­nity such as when peo­ple leave their ve­hi­cles un­locked.

“Es­pe­cially this time of year, we need to stay vig­i­lant, as a com­mu­nity, to­gether, in or­der to stop some of this crime,” he said.

Com­mu­nity-based polic­ing

Whether it’s a rash of car bur­glar­ies, or break-ins or thefts, the most ef­fec­tive way of bat­tling crime is con­stant and fre­quent com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the deputies.

“Be­cause we work closely with the com­mu­nity we have re­ally low­ered the crime in Santa Clarita,” Lewis said. “We can con­tinue to lower it if we stay in part­ner­ship, and stay in the di­rec­tion of (newly sworn-in) Sher­iff Alex Vil­lanueva, con­tin­u­ing our com­mu­nity-based polic­ing model, Santa Clarita will be one of the most vi­brant com­mu­nity polic­ing pro­grams.”

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