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Captain zeroes in on trends

Law enforcement: Santa Clarita Valley is sliced into eight parts for easier crime-data analysis

Posted: April 12, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 12, 2011 1:55 a.m.
 

Law enforcement officers, eager to get the jump on crime trends that crop up in particular areas, are redrawing the small-town image of the Santa Clarita Valley, the SCV’s top cop said Monday.

The Santa Clarita Valley’s 648 square miles will be divided into eight zones, Capt. Paul Becker of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station told members of The Signal’s Editorial Board on Monday.

They are: Saugus, Valencia, Newhall, Canyon Country East, Canyon Country West, Stevenson Ranch, Val Verde/Castaic and Gorman.

“I’ve just restructured my Community Relations Unit,” Becker said. “It’s no longer the Community Relations Unit, it’s the Crime Prevention Unit.”

The SCV has outgrown its small-town image and the sheriff’s department is responding to that change, Becker said.

“The whole idea is that it’s too difficult, with how large this valley is, identifying crime trends, trying to look at this thing in a global sense — it’s just too much,” he said.

The perception of the SCV as a small town must change since Santa Clarita is now the fourth largest city in Los Angeles County, Becker said.

He calls the Crime Prevention Unit “one of the most substantial changes in the works for 2011,” something he’s wanted to do since becoming captain in March 2010.

Each of the regions is expected to be monitored by a zone leader who will look at incidents of reported crimes and keep track of parolees, probationers and registered sex offenders living within the zone.

Desks for the new unit have already been assigned at the central station on Magic Mountain Parkway. Wall maps of each color-coded zone are on the walls.

Zone leaders monitor and map “real time crime” using a sheriff’s-only computer overlay system compatible with Google Maps software.

Using the overlay, unit leaders can see immediately — as tiny colored icons peppered over a particular area — how many vehicle break-ins are reported in that specific area, or how many parolees are in the area.

Deputies formerly assigned to Community Relations, working out of a trailer on the station lot, have moved into renovated offices inside the Sheriff’s Station with a new Crime Prevention Unit sign on their door.

Sgt. Darren Harris and Lt. Brenda Cambra, who both worked in Community Relations, are the new unit’s operations sergeant and operations lieutenant, respectively.

“We want to know about those one or two burglaries in a neighborhood so that if it becomes a trend we can deal with it on the front end, break it down with data and watch it immediately,” Harris said.

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