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Santa Barbara Sheriff says use of force by deputies on decline

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SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office released new data that shows that use of force by deputies is on the decline.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said it was the the third straight year that use of force by deputies has gone down.

In 2019, there were 134 instances of use of force between Santa Barbara County law enforcement and custody deputies, less than 1% of all arrests made that year.

Use of force is defined as any discharged of a firearm by a deputy or a suspect, as well as any interactions that result in serious injury.

The majority of use of force cases, 111 instances between law enforcement and custody deputies, involved use of physical force instead of weapons or tasers.

Brown credits the decline in use of force to the county's crisis intervention teams and de-escalation training.

"I believe this is a direct result of our agency-wide Crisis Intervention Training that has equipped our deputies, custody deputies and dispatchers with a better understanding of how to interact with people who are mentally ill and/or under the influence of substances. It is also a product of integrating de-escalation techniques and tactics into our practical arrest and control, less-lethal weaponry and firearms training,” Brown said in a news release.

The Sheriff’s Office Behavioral Wellness Co-Response Teams pair specially-trained deputies with mental health professionals from the County’s Behavioral Wellness Department.

These teams respond to crisis calls throughout the county, dealing with people who suffer from mental illness, substance abuse or homelessness.

“Underpinning all of these factors is the long-standing and on-going expectation that the members of the Sheriff’s Office treat all people we serve with respect, courtesy, professionalism and fairness,” said Brown.

In addition to use of force instances, arrests as a whole decreased in 2019 for the fifth straight year.

For a complete breakdown of use of force instances by sheriff's deputies, click here.

Article Topic Follows: Safety

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Travis Schlepp

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