The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office of Professional Responsibilities Standards — the equivalent of Internal Affairs — is currently investigating alleged misconduct on the part of two deputies during a Christmas-morning encounter with six transients on the lawn of the former St. Athanasius Church in Isla Vista.

According to a report filed with the Santa Barbara Homeless Advisory Task Force, the two deputies grabbed the backpacks and bedrolls of the six, cut the straps, and tossed some of them — as well as at least one jacket — in various dumpsters around town. According to the report, one of the deputies poured old restaurant grease over some of the confiscated gear. The same deputy was reportedly involved in a similar incident six months ago, confiscating a sleeping bag and tarp from a homeless man, and cutting both up into small pieces.

Sheriff’s spokesperson Drew Sugars confirmed that such an investigation was taking place, but said he could not comment further on the allegations. “It’s a personnel matter,” he said, “but we take this very seriously.” Sugars said the department initiated the investigation on December 29 after hearing secondhand reports from several sources. He said no formal complaint has been filed by any of the individuals involved.


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