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The patrol component functions as the backbone of the police services delivery system, operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The deployment of the police officers who comprise this unit is based on crime and calls for service patterns in a particular neighborhood or other geographic area, the days and times of the week calls for service occur, as well as quality of life issues in our community. Intentional emphasis is placed on the collaborative development of long-term solutions to recurring incidents of neighborhood conflict. Concurrently, the patrol component prides itself on the ability to provide swift and decisive police response to incidents of crime and public disorder.
Patrol is the largest and most visible component of the Police Department. The men and women assigned to this function strive to proactively deter crime before it occurs and to react quickly and effectively when a crime has taken place. Officers are empowered to work in partnership with residents, the business community and other interested groups to develop solutions to chronic problems, crime and fear of crime. The emphasis is on eradicating the causes of crime, not on treating the symptoms.
The Traffic Unit has the responsibility of reducing the loss of life, injury and property damage caused by traffic collisions. As part of their duties, personnel assigned to this unit analyze collision data focusing on location, time and causal factors. Using this information, traffic personnel attempt to reduce the number and severity of our City's traffic collisions through public education, vehicle checkpoints, coordinating efforts with the City’s traffic engineers, and through selective enforcement of those violations linked to collisions by location and cause.
DRUG ABUSE RESISTANCE EDUCATION (D.A.R.E.) PROGRAM
The DARE program was implemented in Santa Maria in 1993 and has graduated 20,000 students. The intent of the program is to create a special connection of trust between the children and a uniformed officer. The fully-funded DARE curriculum consisted of interactive, role-playing and cooperative learning activities, taught by one DARE-certified officer to all sixth-grade public school students at seven school campuses. Because of budget reductions, the City lacks sufficient resources to fully fund this program, however, a scaled-down program is provided.
SPECIAL EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAM (SERT)
The Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) was established in 1986 to provide a response capability for high-risk situations requiring the use of special weapons and tactics. The team's primary goal is the preservation of life during violent, high risk situations.
Such situations include barricaded suspects, hostage rescue, high-risk search warrants, terrorist activity, active shooter, dignitary protection, and similar events.
The team is composed of 12 members that includes one sergeant, who is the Team Leader. The team also has two Paramedics from American Medical Response (AMR) that attend training and respond with the team on call-outs. With the exception of the paramedics, all members of SERT are full-time police officers.
Candidates for the team undergo a rigorous physical agility test and an extensive interview process to test their decision-making skills. The team receives their mandatory monthly training to maintain their readiness to respond in the event of an emergency. Membership on the team is voluntary and requires a willingness to be on call seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Three highly trained hostage negotiators are assigned to work with the team.
Since the organization of this unit in 1986, there have been no injuries to suspects, victims or officers in the completion of their assignments.
SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICER
The School Resource Officer's primary responsibility is enforcing truancy. The Resource Officer works closely with the schools’ attendance offices and parents of the involved students. Once the school attendance office has tracked and identified a student as truant, the school notifies the School Resource Officer.
The goals of the program are to reduce school absenteeism, teach accountability, provide positive channels for behavior, provide parental accountability guidelines, immediate intervention and instill a sense of responsibility and self esteem. After reasonable efforts to provide an opportunity for success, youths not meeting program guidelines are referred to the criminal justice system.
School Resource Officers:
Officer Rick Bendle was born and raised in Santa Maria. Officer Bendle served six years in the United States Air Force. In 2007, he joined the Santa Maria Police Department. He is also a member of the Santa Maria Police Officers Association and the NLPOA (National Latino Police Officer's Association).
Officer Ricardo Arias joined the Santa Maria Police Department's Explorer Program in March of 1993. In June of 1998, he was hired as a Reserve Police Officer for the City of Guadalupe. In January of 2000, he was hired as a full time Police Officer and was assigned to patrol. He also assisted with the explorer program as an co-advisor. In October of 2002, he transferred to the Santa Maria Police Department and from then to October 2008 he worked street patrol. He also assisted with the Explorer Program.
RESERVE POLICE OFFICERS
Santa Maria Police Department Reserve Officers are integral in the operation of numerous special functions requiring a Police presence. These include such events as the Elks Rodeo parade, Strawberry Festival, and Santa Barbara County Fair. Reserve Officers also provide service as an augmentation to regular patrol officers, and work alongside full time officers answering calls for service and crimes in progress. Our Reserve force also has several members who serve the department in specialized units such as SWAT, Training, and the forensic sciences. Many of the Santa Maria Police Reserves are successful professionals in their chosen careers outside of law enforcement, and simply desire to volunteer their services to the citizens of this community. Reserve Officers are required to pass the same stringent testing regimen that a full time officer must pass prior to appointment. In addition to the hiring process the Reserve Officers are also required to complete, and be qualified in, the same field training and proficiency standards that a full time officer must demonstrate. The Santa Maria Police Department currently employs level 1, 2, and 3 Reserves.
The Santa Maria Police Department offers open recruitment for Reserve Police Officers. Contact the Police Department Reserve Coordinator-Sergeant Marc Schneider, at (805) 928-3781 ext. 1129 or by Email.