SCV Sheriff’s Captain pursues ‘predictive policy’

Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Captain Robert Lewis at the Newhall Ranch Road Bridge Widening groundbreaking on May 2, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Not satisfied to keep on top of crime, Santa Clarita Valley’s newly-named top cop says he wants to keep one step ahead of it.

Captain Robert Lewis of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, in a sit-down face-to-face interview with The Signal Monday, after six weeks on the job, said he’s wrapping up his assessment of the station and is poised to outline his strategy with the rank and file.

“Our mission and goals will be based on a predictive policy when it comes to crime,” Lewis said, explaining the policy identifying problems as they begin unfolding.

“We have eight zones being worked and I would like to see more of a predictive role taken whereby we identify where crimes are frequently occurring and take action.”

Lewis said he plans to meet with ranking officers in the next week or so to discuss the observations he’s made in the last six weeks as captain of the local station.

“We want to identify areas where the best policing efforts can be deployed,” he said. “We want to track and identify specific areas where crimes are occurring.”

Topping the list of observations made since early last month is the effectiveness, he said, of the station’s rank-and-file.

“These guys are doing a great job,” Lewis said.

Also doing a great job – but not on the payroll – are SCV residents taking an active part through social media to bring attention to problems and concerns.

“The Nextdoor app is another Neighborhood Watch,” Lewis said, pointing to the interactive social media app as an example of effective public interaction with the sheriff’s station.

“If anyone sees something on Nextdoor and has questions and wants to verify if it’s true or untrue, then give us a call,” he said.

Lewis said he wants a “stronger direction” pursued by the zone deputies.

Past history

In April 2011, former Captain Paul Becker divided the 648 square miles of Santa Clarita Valley into eight zones with each zone monitored and managed by a designated deputy.

The zones are: Saugus, Valencia, Newhall, Canyon Country East, Canyon Country West, Stevenson Ranch, Val Verde/Castaic and Gorman.

Each of the regions is monitored by a zone leader who looks at incidents of reported crimes and keeps track of parolees, probationers and registered sex offenders living within the zone.

Zone leaders break down the crimes committed in the space of one week within their region, including even the most minor of misdemeanor offenses, in an effort to better inform the residents in their respective zones.

In explaining the need to divide SCV into smaller areas, Becker pointed to a rapidly growing community in the SCV.

Third largest

The perception of the SCV as a small town must change Becker said at the time. Six years ago, when Becker headed up the local law enforcement effort, Santa Clarita had grown to be the fourth largest city in the county.

“Now we’re the third largest city in the county,” Lewis said Monday.

“We’re not in Mayberry,” he said, referring to 1960s-era television’s Andy Griffith Show, which depicted a small fictitious North Carolina town where nothing really bad ever happens.

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