June 30, 2014

SCPD Introduces the Neighborhood Enforcement Team (N.E.T.)

Several years ago, the Santa Cruz Police Department created a specialized unit whose primary focus was suppression of crimes of violence, gangs and drugs.  This highly effective team was called the Street Crimes Unit.  A few years ago, we had to scale back the number of personnel assigned to this team as a result of staffing shortages caused by long-term injuries, retirements and attrition.  The police department currently has 94 sworn police officer positions that are funded in our annual budget, however in April, 2013 the City Council authorized us to hire up to five additional police officer positions in anticipation of upcoming retirements.  Recently, the Santa Cruz Police Department has achieved full staffing of 94 sworn staff.  We just hired a police officer to fill our first overfill police officer position in May, bringing our complement of sworn staff to 95.  We anticipate hiring a few more overfill positions within the next few months.  We currently have two police officers in our field training program and four police recruits in the police academy.

With our recent success of achieving full staffing, we have been able to staff the specialized unit, formerly known as the Street Crimes Unit, with a sergeant (supervisor) and a full complement of police officers.  The fully-staffed unit went back in service on Saturday May 24th.  With the reformation of this unit, we decided to freshen things up a little with a name change.  This unit is now called our Neighborhood Enforcement Team (N.E.T.).  The name change more accurately reflects the team’s primary focus on criminal issues that affect the quality of life within our neighborhoods.  The mission of the Neighborhood Enforcement Team will be to enhance the safety of our neighborhoods by addressing criminal concerns through resource collaboration and varied enforcement efforts.  The goal of the Neighborhood Enforcement Team will be neighborhood improvement through inter-departmental and inter-agency cooperation.

The Neighborhood Enforcement Team has hit the ground running since its inception on May 24th.  During their first month, they effectively addressed the following neighborhood crime issues:

·         27 proactive* felony arrests
·         17 proactive misdemeanor arrests
·         Participated in narcotic enforcement with Santa Cruz County Anti-Crime Team
·         Participated in prostitution enforcement with Santa Cruz County Anti-Crime Team
·         Participated in uniformed and plain clothes directed enforcement in neighborhoods
·         Recovered a handgun and arrested four suspects during a vehicle stop following a shooting incident on West Cliff Drive
As we move forward, the Neighborhood Enforcement Team will focus their efforts in the following areas:

·         Collaborate with our Community Services Unit to identify problem locations
·         Collaborate with neighborhood groups to address nuisance issues, both criminal and non-criminal
·         Continue directed enforcement in neighborhoods
·         Narcotic and prostitution enforcement in collaboration with the Santa Cruz County Anti-Crime Team
·         Conduct home visits and searches of persons on active probation and parole
·         Collaborate with various SCPD specialized units to address criminal activity downtown and in our parks and open spaces
·         Assist the Patrol Division with high priority calls for service
·         Assist Investigations Division in locating/apprehending wanted fugitives

The Santa Cruz Police Department Neighborhood Enforcement Team is committed to improving the quality of life in our neighborhoods and throughout our City through proactive and creative problem solving efforts, aggressive enforcement and effective resource deployment.  We are pleased to have our newly-branded Neighborhood Enforcement Team at the forefront of our efforts.  The Santa Cruz Police Department strives for continuous improvement and is committed to keeping our City and our community members safe.