Congressmember Lois Capps rallied with Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown and San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson this Tuesday to speak out against legislation that would put an end to two federally funded law enforcement programs, the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP). COPS offers supplemental grants to pay for deputy positions and up-to-date equipment, and SCAAP is a program that, according to Brown, will fund five custody deputy positions with $713,000.
Currently, around 20 percent of Santa Barbara County’s 1,200-plus inmates are illegal immigrants, and they cost the county between $6-$7 million a year to keep in custody. “Immigration is a federal responsibility,” Brown stressed. “Local law enforcement should be reimbursed.” Capps wasn’t sure exactly when the legislation would hit the floor and couldn’t comment on the chances of Congress hurling SCAAP and COPS into what will likely be a mass grave of cut federal programs. “I’m fighting hard in Washington, D.C., to make sure you have the tools and resources to do your job,” Capps assured.
With 38 positions in the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department already lost this fiscal year and the weight of thousands of state prisoners poised to fall on the backs of California’s county jails at the beginning of October, area agencies say they’re in danger of becoming understaffed and under-resourced. Brown said that elimination of SCAAP could cause “an erosion in public safety” for Santa Barbara.