SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The Santa Barbara Police Department is getting a much needed security upgrade with three gates for all the entrances and exits leading to the back of the department and parking lot.
There are numerous signs around the police department letting people know not to enter the lot but many still walk through.
The open parking lot has been a problem for years but thanks to a $215,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security, automatic metal gates will be installed.
There are three entrances and exits: two on Figueroa Street and on on Anapamu. People sometimes pass through the lot to avoid going around but the biggest concern isn't the pedestrians walking through.
"Over the years, we've caught people prowling in these driveways and in the back lot, folks that we've arrested in the past," said Sgt. Riley Harwood.
The lot is used for both personal and squad cars that are sometimes targeted and vandalized.
The police cars carry computer gear and weapons and although they are locked, Harwood said there needs to be a point of security before anyone makes it on the lot.
"A police facility should have some type of perimeter security for our safety, for our employees safety and to be able to protect all of our equipment and other property we're responsible for," said Harwood.
Another item that draws attention are the rows of bikes that are either recovered or impounded.
"We've had people back here that we've caught prowling and looking at the property. Folks that didn't have any legitimate reason for being back here," he said.
The bicycles are locked up but a police bike in the garage was stolen a few years ago. Harwood said it is a crime of opportunity but once the gate goes up, that will be eliminated.
There is not timeline yet for the new gates but the first step will be for the Santa Barbara City Public Works Department to design them.18556406