In response to a violent assault last month near the Franklin Center, Santa Barbara Police Chief Cam Sanchez has ordered that his department’s daily shift briefings take place in the center’s parking lot to increase police visibility in the area.
Officers operate in three main shifts, meaning they gather at the Franklin Center three times each day. Police spokesperson Sgt. Riley Harwood said such briefings will run through most of August. “Plenty of people are very upset on the Eastside because they are being intimidated by gang members at the Franklin Center,” Sanchez told the City Council last Tuesday.
The move has already paid off. Saturday night, Sgt. Kenny Kushner was briefing the graveyard shift of officers when they heard a commotion behind them — a man was on Franklin Center property. Several of the officers went over to the area and found a man believed to be intoxicated, according to Harwood. The officers determined the subject, who said he had accidentally walked onto the grounds, was in violation of his felony probation for possession of a dangerous drug, and he was arrested.
The catalyst for the briefings at the Franklin Center was an alleged gang-related attack on a non-gang member. The 22-year-old male victim was walking near Pennywise Market on Montecito Street — a known gang hangout across from the Franklin Center — when he was challenged by gang members, Harwood said. They chased him down and assaulted him, though no weapons were used. Police are still actively investigating the incident, Harwood said, so no other information is currently available.