Marco Pavico, a newly hired officer with UCSB’s beleaguered police department, was arrested today after a social media post showed he’d reportedly been drunk in a Santa Barbara bar, pulled out his badge, and brandished his department-issue firearm. The incident, in an undisclosed nightclub in downtown Santa Barbara, was under investigation by the Santa Barbara Police Department “minutes” after the agency saw the post on December 17 of the December 15 incident, said SBPD spokesperson Anthony Wagner, who stated the incident was unprovoked.
UC Santa Barbara Police Department, which worked on the investigation with SBPD, in a prepared statement said Pavico had not been cleared for field duty at the time. He’d just started his job on December 10, the same day he graduated from the Law Enforcement Training Academy at Allan Hancock College, and was just beginning orientation. He was limited to administrative duties. Earlier in May, he was an Explorer with the County Sheriff’s Office, which gives people ages 14-20 experience in law enforcement.
Pavico is on investigatory leave without pay while the criminal investigation is being conducted by SBPD. His badge and gun were seized, and his police power was suspended, said SBPD Capt. Alex Altavilla. UCSB PD is conducting an internal affairs investigation as well. The prepared statement from UCSB PD acknowledged Pavico’s alleged conduct was “highly unprofessional” and would not be condoned. “There is absolutely no place in our department for the kind of behavior alleged in this incident,” the unsigned statement said.
UCSB’s Police Department has been the target of a number of lawsuits in the past year, with five past and present officers alleging misbehavior by superiors. Among the allegations asserted by the various plaintiffs are that officers left their post and sexually assaulted a student in a dormitory, that complaints to superiors resulted in demotions or a lack of promotion, and that the officers complaining were themselves causing the trouble in the department. UCSB’s reply to all inquiries has been that the lawsuits involve internal personnel issues that were being or had been investigated.