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Santa Maria police, park rangers focusing on crime prevention around mall

Santa Maria mall
Posted at 6:15 PM, Mar 02, 2022

The City of Santa Maria is stepping up efforts to deter criminal activity around the Santa Maria Town Center mall.

"Don't find it safe," said shopper Jamie Huschka. "I think there needs to be more police patrols around the areas."

One area officers and city rangers with the Recreation and Parks Department are focusing on is the Town Center East parking structure near Main and Broadway.

"All times of day, every day of the week, so even if we don't have a bike patrol deployed, we have patrol officers 24/7, obviously, around and we've been having them go through consistently," explained Lt. Paul Van Meel with the Santa Maria Police Department.

"It makes me, honestly, feel a little bit more comfortable," said shopper Anna Dahmen.

The parking structure, which is owned and managed by the city, is a hot spot for people to gather after the mall closes.

In early February, 17-year-old Alexis Mendoza Raymundo was shot and killed on the second floor and a 24-year-old woman was hurt.

Besides preventing future violent crimes like this, the police department is also hoping to stop car break-ins and property crimes.

"I honestly don't mind it and I think it's what's needed," Dahmen said.

The mall closes at 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 6 p.m. on Sunday but there's no real way of closing down the entire parking structure so the police department is honing in on patrols in the immediate area for the time being.

"As long as the police presence is there, the people are going to know that they can't do anything wrong," said shopper Ellsworth Harding.

Van Meel says since increasing patrols a few weeks ago, the department has already seen a decrease in calls for service around the area.