The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station reorganized the zone leader program in response to a countywide mandate, officials said Tuesday.
The move came as a result of a county audit showing a one-minute discrepancy in response time between contract cities and unincorporated areas throughout Los Angeles County.
There are now five enforcement zones in the Santa Clarita Valley, all of which are within city limits: Deputy Mark Manskar is in charge of Zone 4 in Saugus; Deputy Regina Yost leads Zone 5 in Valencia; Deputy Josh Dubin is in charge of Zone 6 in Newhall; Deputy Jeremy Carr is in charge of Zone 7, which is Canyon Country – west; and Deputy Ana Rubalcava is in charge of Zone 8, which is Canyon Country – east.
The zone-leader position for zones 1, 2 and 3, which were Gorman, Castaic/Val Verde and Westridge/Stevenson Ranch, respectively, have been eliminated.
The change means that unincorporated areas will see an increased patrol presence, but there will not be a zone leader to break down crime reports on a week-to-week basis, release Nixle reports that track crime trends in the area and share findings with enforcement teams.
The CPU’s zone leaders also track AB 109 parolee releases and assist the detective bureau in tracking pawns that can lead to the recovery of stolen goods, Dubin said. Zone leaders also engage in social media efforts to inform the community and increase the public’s input in crime reporting.
In addition to being a popular feature with residents, weekly Nixle reports and operational meetings help deputies direct enforcement resources, he said.
Enforcement zones within city limits will not be affected by the changes. The reason for the change has to do with funding sources.
Santa Clarita is a city that contracts its Sheriff’s Department services through Los Angeles County.
This means the city pays for most services, while others, such as the salary for a station commander and the handling of certain major crimes like homicide are paid for by the county, according to Dan Schneiderman, a county controller whose office made the audit that cited the service difference.
Sheriff’s Station Capt. Paul Becker said the county’s mandated enforcement change did not come with a budget increase for more patrols, so he was forced to adjust resources to make more patrols available.
“I have to hit a compliance level within those city (limits) to fulfill the contract,” Becker said in an interview last week, after the audit was announced. “They hit a set amount, we bill them every month and we fulfill those contracts. So, obviously, when there’s a reduction in staffing levels, it’s going to fall on the unincorporated areas.”
Locally, a coverage area of more than 500 square miles somewhat skewed the accuracy of response-time comparisons cited in the audit, Becker said.
But the bottom line has meant three fewer deputies available for crime-trend analyses, so that they may be available for patrol and improved response time, leaving five enforcement zones for the CPU.
With 22,000 reports and more than 50,000 service calls each year, meaningful analysis is critical to solving and preventing crime, Dubin said.
The reports help deputies, as well as residents, stay aware of crime trends in the Santa Clarita Valley.
“One of the biggest challenges right now that zone leaders are facing is getting information out to the public,” Dubin said, adding that officials have increased recent efforts through social media avenues, such as Twitter and Facebook.
“Each zone leader has strengths and weaknesses,” Dubin said. “However, working together in a bullpen-style CPU, each zone leader can pull from the strengths of other zone leaders. The zone leader’s goal is simple: Reduce crime in each zone, partner with the community and provide extra field support when needed.”
Dubin said the large coverage areas makes working together essential, and he cited several examples of how the zone leader program as made an impact in the Santa Clarita Valley.
In Valencia, Yost gathered intelligence and coordinated resources, search warrants, parole and probation compliance checks in a neighborhood where residents repeatedly complained of drug-dealing at a specific house.
More than 15 arrests in all, including parolees and probationers who were living or staying at the dwelling at various times with the homeowner, helped officials’ efforts to eventually prompt repossession of the home and ending the illegal activity.