It was only three years ago that Santa Clarita welcomed new “Chief of Police” Anthony La Berge to his post as Captain of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Santa Clarita station.
La Berge entered his role after the previous captain, Patti Minutello, had been away from the station on medical leave for quite some time. Quickly, he established his order and began bringing in new components of policing that won praise from City Council members.
Last week Captain La Berge was promoted to commander, a move that will take him out of the Santa Clarita station. However, while he is moving up, he’s not moving out; La Berge is acting as the replacement for retiring Commander Carl Deeley, who oversees six Sheriff’s stations in region one, including Santa Clarita. La Berge also lives in Santa Clarita, so don’t be surprised if he’s seen in line at the grocery store too.
KHTS caught up with our head lawman for a reflection on his time here.
La Berge said that there were several developments that he is greatly proud of.
“We’ve improved our community responsiveness and the way we provide our services,” he said.
Under his command a new local Sheriff’s website was created and populated with commonly asked questions, safety tips, crime news and most wanted suspect descriptions. Additionally, the site offers the ability to report crime anonymously and caters a host of resources regarding Sheriff’s crime prevention programs.
Soon after La Berge took over the SCV station, he brought in Sgt. AJ Rotella to develop a new Sheriff’s Business Alliance. Rotella created resources for local businesses, conducted compliance checks and made a mission out of educating businesses about how to prevent business-related crimes like identity theft and fraud. The program has been immensely popular and won multiple awards to date.
Another visible part of La Berge’s legacy was a change in the way the station fights crime.
“I think that our proactive policing style has definitely been evident over the last couple of years, in sense of the number of arrests we’ve made, and then dealing proactively with our gangs.”
In 2009, 90 percent of all gang crime committed in Santa Clarita was solved. The station also combated an outbreak of door-kick burglaries in communities off Highway 14 by saturating patrols in the area.
The analytical side of crime prevention plays a key role. La Berge says that four out of the five homicides in our valley over the last 14 months were related to domestic violence. Those numbers sparked increased vigilance on behalf of the station and led to greater involvement with our local domestic violence center.
Of course the real credit for all of the recent successes, La Berge says, is due to the men and women who work out of our station.
Moving forward, La Berge’s job will become increasingly administrative. He says commanders deal with things like risk management, personnel issues and liability issues, in addition to managing several stations.
The biggest and most pressing hurtle in the future will be dealing with budgetary constraints.
“Obviously, to be able to help our captains and personnel deal with properly managing the resources and getting us through this challenging situation while still maintaining the level of service that we’re proud of, that will be our biggest challenge…and that is one that I will be jumping into right now with both feet,” La Berge said.
Replacing La Berge as the station captain will be Paul Becker, a former homicide detective with 30 years of experience. Click here to learn more about him.
Over the next few weeks, Commander La Berge will be handing over more and more of the Santa Clarita station responsibilities to Captain Becker. The transition will be quick, at least as far as the Sheriff’s department is concerned. The name Anthony La Berge, however, will not be so quick to fade into memory, as the programs he pioneered in our valley continue to make a difference.