SANTA BARBARA COUNTY GRAND JURY 1995-96

REVIEW OF RESPONSES TO 1994-95 GRAND JURY REPORTS

Released: June 27, 1996

INTRODUCTION

The California Penal Code Section 933a requires Civil Grand Juries to investigate governmental agencies within their counties and matters pertaining to them, to report upon investigations, and to issue Findings and Recommendations. Section 933c of the Penal Code requires Affected Agencies to respond to those Findings and Recommendations within 60 or 90 days.

The Grand Jury is required to provide a watchdog service to the citizens of Santa Barbara County as well as to suggest ways for government agencies to operate efficiently.

The 1994-95 Santa Barbara Grand Jury issued 19 Interim Final Reports. One of those reports reviewed the adequacy of departmental responses to the 1993-94 Grand Jury Reports and urged that subsequent juries complete a similar report. The 1995-1996 Grand Jury is responding by following this recommendation.

The Grand Jury found that some responses were adversarial. We should note that the Grand Jury Findings and Recommendations address policies, positions, and procedures rather than personalities.

To make Grand Jury reports and responses more accessible to the public, the 1994-95 Grand Jury report was the first posted on the Internet. The Grand Jury Internet address is http://www.sbcgj.org/. E-mail can be sent to the Grand Jury at sbcgj@sbcgj.org.

OBJECTIVE

To assess the adequacy of responses to the recommendations made, and, where appropriate, to monitor the progress by the Affected Agencies. In addition, topics for future investigations were recommended.

APPROACH

Agency responses to the nineteen 1994-95 Grand Jury reports were collected, collated, and analyzed in terms of completeness of response. Follow-up information was requested from various Affected Agencies.

GRAND JURY GROUND RULES FOR EVALUATING RESPONSES

I. The 1995-96 Grand Jury considered a response to a recommendation made in the 1994-95 Grand Jury Report adequate if:

II. The Grand Jury considered a response inadequate if: III. The sitting Grand Jury has authority to request additional information from respondents when appropriate, and may make further findings based on this new information. (See "Unresolved Problems and Suggestions" below.)

OBSERVATIONS

GENERAL SUMMARY OF RESPONSE EVALUATIONS

The 1995-96 Grand Jury is pleased to report that it reviewed the Affected Agency responses to 119 recommendations made in 19 reports published by the previous Grand Jury and found, that with very few exceptions, each recommendation was considered seriously. The agencies agreed with most of the recommendations. In some cases there were disagreements. In many cases, immediate actions were taken which should lead to better and more efficient government. The quality of the responses may be attributed, in part, to:

POSITIVE ACTIONS TO GRAND JURY RECOMMENDATIONS

The Grand Jury wishes to thank all responding agencies for their sincere interest in helping the governments in Santa Barbara County to operate smoothly, economically, and in the public interest. Areas of change by Affected Agencies include:

The Board of Supervisors took the "bull by the horns" to develop a new Mission Statement, Organizational Values, Goals and Objectives, and Action Steps with timetables which may result in cost savings and more efficient government.

The County Clerk/Recorder/Assessor publishes an updated Elections Handbook for each election. The most recent ones incorporated many of the recommendations made by the 1994-95 Grand Jury. The office is making every effort to get a higher voter turnout at the polls.

The Personnel Department conducted a survey of individual county departments to determine the efficiency of the Personnel Department. The goal was to improve the county personnel process.

The Santa Barbara, Lompoc, and Santa Maria Police Departments developed written policies for providing medical service to arrestees in the field at time of arrest when they are known to have ingested drugs.

SUGGESTIONS TO FUTURE GRAND JURIES

The 1995-96 Grand Jury is aware that continued refinements must be made to the process of making recommendations and responding to them in such a way as to benefit the people of this county. Responses citing budgetary inadequacy to implement desirable changes are common and may be addressed in several ways. The sitting Grand Jury should:

The Grand Jury is legally mandated to examine the county audit and all detention facilities each year; ongoing problems in these fields will be referred to Grand Jury members for investigation. Unresolved issues raised by a review of the recommendations and responses in other areas may be referred to the sitting Grand Jury for possible further investigation.

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

FINDING 1: The responses to the 1994-95 Grand Jury Final Report were adequate, and often excellent. The County Administrator and Board of Supervisors are currently in the process of making improvements to the operation of county government.

FINDING 2: The Grand Jury reports and responses are now on the Internet. FINDING 3: Many respondents concurrred with Grand Jury recommendations and stated they would implement certain changes to improve their operations. FINDING 4: The 1995-96 Grand Jury concludes that a review process is effective in improving Santa Barbara County government. AFFECTED AGENCIES None.

REFERENCE



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