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COMMUNITY SERVED BY PROGRAM CSO PROJECT SHOWS RESULTS.

Byline: JIM SKEEN Staff Writer

LANCASTER -- The city's takeover and expansion of the community service officer program is beginning to show results for improving service and easing sheriff's deputies' workloads, city and sheriff's officials said Monday.

After three weeks on the job, the 15 community service officers have taken close to 700 crime reports, freeing deputies for other calls and helping cut response times for routine calls by 10 minutes, to seven to eight minutes, said Capt. Carl Deeley, commander of the Lancaster sheriff's station.

``They are really coming along quick,'' Deeley said. ``They should soon be taking up to 1,200 reports a months.''

Deeley said in one incident, a CSO helped in a burglary investigation that resulted in five arrests. In many cases, a deputy taking a burglary report would have time only to get the basic information and maybe knock on a couple of neighbors' doors before having to go answer other calls.

In the burglary case, a CSO was able to canvass much of the neighborhood, eventually locating a witness with information that led to the arrests.

Uniformed but unarmed, community service officers can take reports on minor and nonemergency crimes, answer phones, issue parking citations and direct traffic at crash scenes and special events.

Of the 90,000 calls for service received a year at the Lancaster sheriff's station from city residents, more than 10,000 of those could be handled by community service officers, saving the equivalent workload of five full-time deputies, according to city and sheriff's officials.

The city this summer took over staffing the community service officer program from Los Angeles County and expanded it from eight positions to 15. City officials said they could speed up the hiring process and pay more than what the county could pay.

Under the county pay system, CSOs have a pay range of $1,802 to $2,246 a month. Lancaster's pay scale for CSOs is $2,769 to $3,537 a month.

``We're ecstatic with how it's going,'' said Assistant City Manager Mark Bozigian. ``We're already seeing results.''

james.skeen(at)dailynews

(661) 267-5743
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 24, 2006
Words:350
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