Since 1992, the city of Carpinteria has contracted with the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office, and at this week’s meeting of the City Council, one of the department’s longest serving officers, Carpinteria’s Chief of Police Ugo “Butch” Arnoldi, reported a 27 percent drop in Part 1 crimes (including homicide, rape, larceny and robbery).
The percent decrease in Part 1 crimes—also called index crimes—reflects a change from 227 instances in 2018 to 166 instances in 2019. A closer look reveals the difference between 19 acts of aggravated assault in 2018 and only seven in 2019; 35 burglaries in 2018 and 19 in 2019; 146 acts of larceny in 2018 and 116 in 2019; and 25 motor vehicle thefts in 2018 versus 20 in 2019. There have been no reported rapes since the four last recorded in 2017; and for the first time in over 10 years, there was a homicide in 2019.
There was a 2 percent drop in Part 2 crimes in Carpinteria in 2019 compared with 2018. Part 2 crimes include DUI, embezzlement and disturbing the peace. Citations and arrests involving homeless activity totaled 144 for the fiscal year (2019/20), compared with 156 in 2018/19. Arnoldi also reported 15 percent fewer calls for service and 11 percent fewer traffic collisions in 2019.
Some council members expressed surprise to learn that crime was down considering an apparent uptick in crimes recently reported in the Commander’s Report crime logs published each week in the Coastal View News. Arnoldi explained that right now the criminal justice system is working in a modified capacity. Based on state orders related to Covid-19, many people are being released shortly after their arrests in order to keep inmate populations down, and reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus infections.
“For example, a gentleman was arrested four times for auto theft…” said Arnoldi, “He gets put in jail and then gets right back out to steal a car again. Unfortunately, this is the criminal justice system that we have right now . . . The good thing is, we’re catching them. We’re making the arrests each week. What happens after we arrest them, that’s not the Sheriff’s fault. This is just the situation right now in California.”
After Councilmember Gregg Carty expressed concern, saying, “I hope it’s not the norm,” Arnoldi noted for the council that “it is the norm,” and that in Lompoc and Santa Maria, “they’re having homicides every week.” The Santa Barbara County Jail population currently is less than 600 people when that number is normally 1,000, noted Arnoldi.
In other Sheriff’s Office updates, Councilmember Roy Lee asked if the Sheriff’s Office would begin using drones soon in place of helicopters, and Arnoldi confirmed that yes, a program is being developed in the Aviation Bureau and might be in place as early as next year.