Nov 27, 2012 9:31 PM by Nikki Ibarra
Imagine having a police officer assigned to your own neighborhood. Someone you can personally call when there's an issue in your area that doesn't involve an emergency. People who live and work in Santa Maria are getting just that.
It's part of the recently reactivated Community Beat Coordinators unit.
KSBY's Nikki Ibarra rode along with one of the officers.
Corporal Jeff Lopez has been with the department for 19 years. "We're just trying to help the citizens help themselves," said Cpl. Lopez.
His new assignment: patrolling the southern section of Santa Maria. Also known as, everything south of Stowell Road.
"I've had the opportunity to meet several people who own local businesses and they've been able to express their problems to us. So I think they're receptive to it. I think they have peace of mind knowing that they can have basically somebody to contact," said Cpl. Lopez.
The most common calls he gets are regarding transients, domestic disputes, loitering and public intoxication.
On this call, Cpl. Lopez doesn't arrest anyone. Instead, he takes the man back to his home.
When he's not responding to 911 calls, he's out meeting people in the community where he grew up, letting them know he's here to help.
The community beat unit was a part of the police department for many years before budget cuts forced it to be eliminated two years ago. The revived unit doesn't cost the city any more money because the officers assigned to it already work for the department.
In case of an emergency, the public is urged to always call 911, not the newly assigned community beat coordinators.
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