Isla Vista CSD Board Expands CSO Escort Program

From left to right: CSD President Ethan Bertrand, Vice President Natalie Jordan, and Directors Jon Hedges and Jay Freeman. (Hugh Cook/The Bottom Line)

Shomik Mukherjee
News Editor

The Isla Vista Community Services District voted on Tuesday to expand the University of California, Santa Barbara Community Service Organization (CSO) Escort Program to staff tents, which would be present along major I.V. streets every night.

Under the expanded program, CSO escorts could work on the ground at set locations to assist people at night, rather than serve on an on-call basis as they currently do.

“While the existing program provides a great benefit to those who call to receive assistance,” CSD President Ethan Bertrand wrote in an agenda statement, “I believe that the program would be able to help more people if it had a visible presence in Isla Vista during times of high activity and foot traffic.”

The CSO Escort Program serves in conjunction with the UCSB Police Department (UCPD) to serve I.V. and the UCSB campus.

CSO escorts aren’t trained to use force or investigate situations. Rather, they accompany people walking between locations and alert police to incidents — essentially serving as what Bertrand called the “extra eyes and ears” for law enforcement.

A list of program ideas authored by CSD President Ethan Bertrand.

With Bertrand’s proposals for the new program, CSO escorts will not work exclusively through a phone service, but will also serve in tents placed at certain locations in I.V., including on popular streets like Del Playa Drive and Sabado Tarde Road.

The CSD will collaborate with the UCPD to set up the expanded program. Funding for the expansion will come entirely out of the CSO budget, though the directors had trouble deciding exactly how much to spend.

With the proposed amount in wages and expenses, directors figured the total funding amount to be about $130,000, which would be 80 percent of the annual $200,000 donated to the district by UCSB. Director George Thurlow, who is UCSB’s board appointee, suggested the board cut that number nearly in half, and the board assigned a sub-committee to propose a final number. The program’s suggestions align with the recommendations made by the UCSB Board of Trustees in a 2014 report on the school’s interests in I.V.  

UCPD Sgt. Matt Bowman called the expanded program a “wonderful collaboration.”

The program expansion will not ensure the hiring of more CSO workers, but the existing ones will be “happy to take on the challenge,” Bowman told The Bottom Line. He also emphasized that the increase in job duties won’t be a source of stress for the student workers. There are “approximately 70 students” working for the CSO, according to the official UCPD website.

“We’ve got a great group of people working for us,” Bowman said.

Board Cuts Ribbon on New Office Space at Tuesday Meeting

The CSD also cut the ribbon Tuesday on a new office space, located directly adjacent to its regular meeting space at the Community Room, in Suite 101 at 970 Embarcadero del Mar.

Third District Supervisor Joan Hartmann posed with the board for the ribbon-cutting, which Bertrand and CSD Vice President Natalie Jordan jointly executed to commemorate the new space. The office will be denoted as the District Office, and community members can visit during office hours to bring their concerns to the CSD. The exact office hours will be determined at the next meeting, Bertrand told The Bottom Line.