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Program allows deputies to divide and conquer crime

Posted: June 30, 2012 1:30 a.m.
Updated: June 30, 2012 1:30 a.m.

Los Angeles County sheriff's Sgt. Marcy Marder, left, and Deputy Sylvester Hardison, right, observe as Sgt. Darren Harris, center, displays a zone crime briefing report on the SMART Board in the crime research center in the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station in Valencia.

Deputies in the Santa Clarita Valley are confident that next year’s annual crime statistics will show the nearly year-old zone leader program has helped reduce crime in the SCV.

“We’re still the second safest place in the county when it comes to part I crimes, and that’s significant — it shows the program is working,” Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Darren Harris said.

Part I offense are violent crimes and include murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault.

Of the 23 sheriff’s stations in the county, deputies assigned to the one in the Santa Clarita Valley responded to fewer violent crime than deputies at 21 of the stations, Harris said.

Capt. Paul Becker, who arrived to helm the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station in summer 2010, initiated a zone leader program, which divides the Santa Clarita Valley into eight patrol zones: Gorman; Castaic and Val Verde; Stevenson Ranch; Saugus; Valencia; Newhall; east Canyon Country; and west Canyon Country.

Each has a deputy — or zone leader — responsible for tracking crime and establishing a rapport with the
community in his or her respective zone, Harris said.

“The public’s input, especially in reporting crime and suspicious activity, is very important,” said Newhall zone leader Deputy Josh Dubin. “Getting information out to the public is a zone leader’s biggest challenge.”

Increasingly, zone leaders depend on electronic communications, but they also rely on the station’s crime research center, a 10-foot-by-7-foot room filled with state-of-the-art crime tracking equipment used to plot deputies’ response to crime scenes or to illustrate tactical procedures in or around a crime scene.

The center uses SMART Board high-definition technology, satellite imagery, GPS tracking and live camera monitoring devices.

Zone leaders and other officers used the center in February to organize field operations of at least 20 deputies investigating a pharmaceutical theft ring, Harris said.

Deputies at the center were able to track the suspect through the Santa Clarita Valley using the crime research center, he said.

Deputies respond to an average of 56,000 calls annually for service in the Santa Clarita Valley, Harris said.

“A review of our crime statistics dating back to the beginning of 2012 indicates our aggressive new approach is working,” Harris added.


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