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Organization: Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station
Date: April 3, 2009
Message From Captain Anthony La Berge
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station — April 2009
    In keeping with our ongoing effort to join with the community in reporting and fighting crime, I have adopted a phrase pertaining to our continued partnership this year: "Now, More Than Ever."
    In 2008, we saw our crime rate in both the city and county areas drop to a four-year low, with multi-year decreases. We saw deputies being extremely proactive in keeping our community safe. Your deputies made a record number of arrests, despite the decrease in overall crime, indicating that less crime occurred but deputies were more innovative and productive in catching those who did commit crimes and sending a strong prevention message. I encourage you to read more about the year-over-year decreases in crime at the following link: SCV Overall Crime Rate At Four-Year Low.
    This year promises to bring us continued challenges. It is not my intention to digress and let all our hard work dilapidate, but with the challenging economic times we face here and across the nation, we need to be proactive and vigilant now, more than ever. Our community is not immune to the economic downturn that has already affected so many of us. In fact, with the current economic, housing, and budgetary conditions taking a toll on virtually every community in the nation, we are sure to face more adversity and challenges in 2009.
    We are only a few months into the year and I have already identified several areas pertaining to public and personal safety that I would like to focus on. I also ask you to join us in working together to get through these tough economic times by focusing efforts on helping us keep our valley safe.
    Tough economic times can bring an increase in property crimes, robberies, and even domestic related incidents as tensions grow and families are faced with challenges and tough household decisions. Remember, we are all facing difficult circumstances. You are not alone and there are many support organizations that are ready and willing to lend a hand for those of you facing family or financial crisis.
    Now more than ever we need to get involved with Neighborhood Watch programs. We need to be in tune with what's going on in our neighborhoods and be ready and able to identify when something is not right. Now more than ever we need to take extra precautions to ensure we are not easy targets for criminals. By taking a few precautions and sending a strong crime prevention message, we can help keep our community safe.
    We have seen a recent increase in residential burglaries and thefts of valuables from vehicles in some areas of the Santa Clarita Valley. Despite the fact that we have made numerous arrests of burglars and thieves, more groups seem to show up in their place.
    As always, an important component to any safe community is "prevention." I would like to remind you to avoid leaving valuables such as GPS systems, wallets, IPods, cell phones, purses, etc., inside your car in plain view. Don't leave garage door openers in your cars when they are parked on the street. Lock your car doors, garage doors, and doors to your house at all times. Perhaps most importantly, immediately report suspicious activity or persons in your neighborhoods to the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station. More burglary and theft prevention tips can be found at the following link: Burglary and Theft Prevention.
    More importantly, we all need to be aware of our personal safety and that of our children and teenagers. As we enter into the Spring break season and many of our youth in the Santa Clarita Valley have a break from school and other responsibilities, I would like to reiterate how important it is that our youth relax and celebrate responsibly. Our parents, guardians, and chaperones must stay closely involved with the activities of our teenagers. We have already seen an increase in sexual assaults and rapes directly connected to teenage parties and gatherings this year. These assaults have not generally been at the hands of a stranger, but rather that of a "friend" or acquaintance the teenager trusted. Some occur at these gatherings after the teenager has become impaired or been given an illegal substance. Teenage alcohol or drug use is illegal. Talk to your teenagers about how to avoid these substances and how to make good decisions. Remind teenage girls to follow a few simple personal safety tips when attending parties or group gatherings as follows: Never accept any drink from another person. Stay together with other female friends and make a pact to look out for one and other. If you are feeling sick or dizzy while out socially, immediately go to someone you know and trust and tell them about your condition. If no one is available, call the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, a trusted friend, or a family member. Never leave a party or gathering alone or accept a ride with a stranger or casual acquaintance. If you think you have been drugged call 9-1-1. Avoid consuming alcohol or taking drugs. Read our "Parent Guide to Teenage Parties and Dances" brochure. The information provided assists parents in planning, organizing, and controlling events hosted at their home. The information also provides tips to follow when the party is held elsewhere and what to consider with your teenager.
    That being said, there is some great news here at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station. Several months ago, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca visited our station and reviewed our law enforcement infrastructure as it pertains to the rapid growth of our community and current population base. Sheriff Baca determined we were in desperate need of station and infrastructure improvements to help your deputies best serve the community. The Sheriff began working directly with community leaders, county officials, and personnel at the Sheriff's Station to establish infrastructure improvement guidelines and secure funding sources. In December, a $250,000 modular office building was added to the station. This building is now home to your Community Relations and Crime Prevention staff, the Countywide and North County Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) teams assigned to Santa Clarita, and the North County Special Victims Bureau.
    Even more than that, we opened a brand new 9,200 square foot Detective Bureau building right here in Santa Clarita in April. This building has replaced the 1,200 square foot Detective Bureau that we outgrew years ago. This state-of-the-art facility is now home to detectives from the Robbery and Assault team, the Burglary and Theft Team, the City's award winning COBRA and Community Interaction Teams, court liaison deputies, crime analysts, and detective bureau support staff. It gives the detectives and other staff members the space, resources, and ability to thoroughly track, log, investigate, and file the more than 20,000 cases that are generated in the Santa Clarita Valley annually. Just as important, it has freed up much needed station space for support staff, volunteer services, criminal interview rooms, logistics, traffic and narcotic investigations, training, community interaction, an emergency operations center, parking, and a much needed expansion of the front counter and public desk areas to improve staffing levels and telephone dispatch stations in response to an ever-increasing level of calls for service.
    As you can imagine, we are ecstatic about these improvements, as the station has not seen an infrastructure change since it was built in 1972. The added space will provide a huge benefit to those who have the immense task of providing public safety and emergency responses for over a quarter of a million residents.
    Our community is still one of the safest places in the nation to live, work, and play. To keep it that way throughout 2009, we need your eyes, ears, and involvement; "Now, More Than Ever." Stay safe and remember: Preventing crime in Santa Clarita is everyone’s business — "If You See Something — Say something."
    Non-emergency crime can be reported anonymously by calling (661) 284-2-TIP (661-284-2847) or by visiting the following link: Crime Tips.

    Best regards,
    Captain Anthony La Berge
    Chief of Police for the City of Santa Clarita

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