Station discusses data-driven approach on crime 

Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station Captain Justin Diez addresses attendees during the An Evening of Conversation with Captain Jusin Diez event held at Mercedes-Benz of Valencia on Wednesday, 051524. Dan Watson/The Signal

Addressing crime trends in the third-largest city in L.A. County involves a myriad of resources that come from throughout the nation’s largest sheriff’s department, according to Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station Capt. Justin Diez, who described it as a multifaceted strategy. 

“It’s really that four-prong approach between patrol, special teams, detectives and outside units,” Diez said Monday, in answering questions about how the station manages its response to Part-I crimes. 

While the reality of the situation is that the department has a lot fewer deputies than its traditional numbers, the department and the station are using data and technology more than ever before to help the public stay safe. 

Diez said countywide efforts have been a big part in helping address crime trends, as well as a new program Sheriff Robert Luna announced last week that will use data tracking to analyze and allocate departmental resources for maximum efficiency. 

The station works to keep the public safe with the work of station deputies and resources from throughout the city of Santa Clarita and L.A. County, he added.  

Community teams  

One of the areas Diez mentioned in terms of how the station has really seen teamwork result in better outcomes for the community is the work done with the Community Partnership Bureau, which has played several roles. 

“They do proactive patrols, and they’ve got the HOS Team, or the Homeless Outreach Services Team,” Diez said.  

The team makes sure homeless residents are aware of their resources and not illegally camping in certain areas, and it works with crime analysts from the station to determine patterns and execute enforcement strategies, which include crime-prevention operations. 

For the purposes of tracking incidents, the SCV is split up into reporting districts, or RDs, Diez said, and officials are constantly having conversations around which RDs need what type of attention. 

He also wanted to remind the public that if residents do have a law enforcement concern or issue specific to their community, whether it’s a dispute, a graffiti incident or someone loitering at a business, the Crime Prevention Unit leaders are there to help.  

The station has divided the SCV into eight zones, and each zone has a leader who represents a “one-stop shop for any issues that could be going on,” Diez said Monday. 

Combating retail theft 

The challenge the SCV’s top cop talks about most is property crimes, as the station is seeing more crimes and is continually arresting individuals — in some cases rearresting the same individuals, Diez said, despite the station’s active patrols and countywide resources. 

“We’re not going to stop,” he said, “we’re going to continue making about 400 arrests (each month) … some of those are arrests after crimes have been committed, some of them are proactive arrests.” 

Those arrests were achieved by the patrol deputies and resources from throughout the LASD working cooperatively, he said. 

Diez described an all-hands-on-deck approach to patrols, with deputies remaining vigilant on patrols and detectives using down time in between calls “out in the field proactively identifying and arresting offenders as well.” 

About a year ago, Luna created the Organized Retail Theft Task Force for the North L.A. County region, which is largely the SCV and Antelope Valley in addition to a few other areas, which operates out of the old sheriff’s station site at Valencia Boulevard and Magic Mountain Parkway. 

“That team is in charge of identifying major retail theft rings and they have been very, very successful, with not only arrests, but prosecutions and the recovery (of stolen goods),” Diez said. 

Diez said the retail theft operations were done with the station’s Crime Prevention Unit, a data-driven team that analyzes crime trends weekly and makes sure the station is adjusting its resources accordingly. 

Expansion of statistics 

In addition to providing help with homeless outreach and encampments, the Community Partnership Bureau also figures into a crime strategy Luna unveiled recently.  

The new Crime Strategies Unit, based out of downtown Los Angeles, is to “identify within our station, within all the stations, top crime trends and hot spots through data gathering and analysis,” Diez said.   
The analysts currently create a Part-I crime data map for deputies that includes incident descriptions, likely vehicle and other information intended to help those on patrol, including be-on-the-lookout notices, or BOLOs, for wanted suspects. 

“And ultimately, they will work with our crime analysts here, our special teams and our Detective Bureau, to base our responses and our crime enforcement on that data,” Diez said.  

He described the new unit as a “more global view” in addition to what the station is working on, as well as “another set of eyes.” 

Deputy Brenda Serna of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau said the department had not released an announcement on the new unit as of Monday when reached by phone and referred inquiries to the department’s website. 

Anyone who has a question about who their zone leader is can contact the sergeant for the unit, Sgt. Bill Edson, at 661-287-5732, or email him at [email protected]. 

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