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A Chance for Change

Isla Vista Prods Officials Toward Solutions


Sunday, July 13, 2014
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After everything that has happened in Isla Vista recently, the status quo is no longer being accepted. Government officials, UC Santa Barbara representatives, students, locals, and anyone else interested in what happens here are meeting and discussing ways to make things better. The proposed changes involve all the things that people are concerned about including gun control, fencing along the cliffs, lighting, and general safety.

Cat Neushul

Tools for Gun Control

On a lovely July day, Representative Lois Capps held a press conference along the bluffs to discuss a bill she had introduced in Congress that would give families and law enforcement added tools to stop mentally ill individuals from hurting themselves or others by preventing them from purchasing or possessing guns for a temporary period of time. The Pause for Safety Act (HR 4806/S 2445) would let families go to court to stop someone close to them from purchasing a gun. It would also allow law enforcement to request a warrant to obtain temporary possession of firearms, if an individual were deemed by the courts to be a threat.

The bill was introduced in reaction to the Elliott Rodger shooting rampage. Before the mass shooting, his family and therapist had tried to obtain help. They had made calls to a county helpline and law enforcement, but to no avail. There were no procedures set in place to get them the help they needed quickly. “We need to empower families with options,” Capps said.

The bill includes a section to “ensure that law enforcement makes full use of all existing state and local databases when assessing a tip, warning, or request from a concerned family member or other close associate.” Many people, including a journalist at the press conference, have asked whether law enforcement had looked at Rodger’s YouTube videos when his family requested a Welfare Check in April. There was no answer to that question. With all the information in the public domain on the Internet, law enforcement could, and should, use YouTube, Google, Facebook, and other social media to find out more about a person of interest.

The State and Gun Control

Assemblymember Das Williams, who grew up in Isla Vista, was also at the press conference to support the bill, and he reiterated the need for legislation that would help prevent another tragedy. “Family members saw the danger and tried to do something,” Williams said. “It is time to empower families.”

Williams introduced a similar bill in the California Assembly called the Gun Violence Restraining Order (AB 1014). It would enable law enforcement and the courts to take action if alerted to a threat by family members, or even roommates. A judge could issue a temporary restraining order preventing an individual from purchasing, owning, or possessing a firearm.

District Attorney Joyce Dudley emphasized the fact that the bill introduced by Capps, and other similar ones, are only one aspect of public safety. “It will be another tool in the tool chest,” Dudley said. She added that she has formed a committee, composed of government representatives, to discuss safety issues in Isla Vista. At that, Ken Warfield, an Isla Vista resident, expressed chagrin at the fact that people who live in the area weren’t invited to be on the committee. It will be interesting to see what types of solutions the group comes up with.

UCSB’s Part in the Solution

In order to enact positive change in I.V., UC Santa Barbara will have to be on board. With its ability to influence the thousands of students who live in the area, the university can help make I.V. a much better, and safer, place.

John Longbrake, UCSB’s associate vice chancellor for Public Affairs and Communication, said, “Over the last several months, the chancellor and the university have been actively working to engage several of the most important partners that will be needed to enact long-term change on campus and in Isla Vista.” He said the chancellor has been working with Santa Barbara County officials, law enforcement, the District Attorney’s Office, students from UCSB and Santa Barbara City College, and residents “to share ideas and work toward solutions.”

The university has also supplied funding, Longbrake said. “The university, which has already committed $2 million toward future infrastructure improvements in I.V. as a part of our Long Range Development Plan (LRDP), has recently committed an additional $220,000 to the county for immediate improvements to lighting in I.V. This is a separate initiative from the additional lighting that has been installed across campus over the last several months.”

Some of the steps UCSB representatives have taken, or plan to take, include:

• Increasing law enforcement presence on campus and in I.V. leading up to commencement (these efforts will intensify in the fall)

• Increasing Community Service Officer (CSO) patrols in the I.V. area

• Figuring out a solution to fencing issues along the bluffs. Temporary fencing was installed and vandalized. A permanent solution is being discussed.

• Conducting a lighting and safety assessment

The university plans involve multi-pronged approaches and the participation of all interested parties, including faculty members. The chancellor has talked to faculty members about hosting dinners in their homes to create a way for students and university representatives to interact. Chancellor Henry T. Yang wrote in a letter to faculty that stated, “Interacting with students in that setting will not only allow for us to get to know our students better in their living environment, beyond our classrooms, library, and laboratories on campus, but also to show them that we are interested in their lives off campus. It might also offer opportunities for us to begin to understand and address in depth some of the problems we are identifying in Isla Vista during nights and weekends.”

With the necessity for change staring everyone in the face and a load of intelligent people discussing the issue, there is hope that things will be better in Isla Vista in the coming days, months, and years. What is of utmost importance is that the community keep its collective eye on the ball and remember “not one more.”

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Comments

Independent Discussion Guidelines

Gun control...a topic that ensures controversy, so to my fellow bloggers I say, "On your marks, get set, go!"

Meanwhile I will kick back and watch the cyberwar.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
July 14, 2014 at 4:58 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Gun Owner, I approve these Gun Control Bill's.

dou4now (anonymous profile)
July 14, 2014 at 5:19 a.m. (Suggest removal)

lol, Cat says the IV cliffs were vandalized when the fencing was damaged/removed.

I say the IV cliffs were vandalized by the government when the stupid orange fences were put up. They look horrible.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
July 14, 2014 at 10:31 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Rodgers mother was on the phone with her son when the police made their visit. She did not ask the police to view the video, if she was so alarmed. Just the opposite, she was content with the police response and indicated this on the spot during the time of the police well-being check. Police did their duty to the fullest extent of the law and circumstances.

JarvisJarvis (anonymous profile)
July 14, 2014 at 10:35 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Being a survivor of the Vietnam era riots in the early 70s at UCSB and IV this is same blah blah blah we heard then. The school was going to break down the Eucalyptus Curtain, watch and control with the county what was happening in IV. Here we are 40 years later and they are saying the same stuff. Seeing is believing. There are so many issues: over crowding, outsiders coming to IV to party with no respect etc. Gun control for a specific area like IV won't work unless they put up a fence around IV, do a complete search of guns and remove them and then search every vehicle and person coming. Guns per se are not the biggest issue in IV.

ednsb (anonymous profile)
July 14, 2014 at 12:16 p.m. (Suggest removal)

We are sending a video to the White House in regards to our non-profit plan to heal our community and find an answer to this. We are a production team of artists that live in Isla Vista and want to show pride and compassion to our community. We are trying to get in contact with Cat Neushul Please visit us: http://instagram.com/islavista_collec... and send an email to: islavistaproject@gmail.com

IslaVis (anonymous profile)
July 14, 2014 at 3:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Lots of people get murdered in the ghetto on a daily basis but it's only when some people get killed near us and when it's people of our own social strata that we care.

I'd feel much safer walking down the streets of I.V. at night than walking down the streets of Compton during daylight hours.

Bear in mind that U.C.S.B. generates a lot of money so it behooves the politicians to act as though they are doing something to prevent this from ever happening again.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
July 14, 2014 at 7:49 p.m. (Suggest removal)

agree Jarvis, and the Rodgers' family was contacting the cops at the last minute. Earlier, when the 5 or 6 cops came to his apartment, one does wonder why they hadn't seen most of the videos he posted.
Good column, thank you, Cat. When you write that "With all the information in the public domain on the Internet, law enforcement could, and should, use YouTube, Google, Facebook, and other social media to find out more about a person of interest." -- you miss a point, another angle is that with SO MUCH INFO floating around out there on social media, the cops would have to hire more people just to monitor this stuff...how to separate the wheat from the chaff?

DavyBrown (anonymous profile)
July 14, 2014 at 8:10 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The mother did not ask the police to view the videos. She was on the phone with her son when the police were present. There was mutual satisfaction at that point between mother who triggered the police call and the son at that time. There were two videos. You might be getting them mixed up. One was right before the crimes were committed, and a different one was several weeks earlier which had triggered the police visit due to the mother's and believe the therapist's friend's concern about his well-being only. I do not think that first video which triggered the initial police visit was made public, unlike the last one which was quite chilling.

JarvisJarvis (anonymous profile)
July 14, 2014 at 8:23 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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