SANTA BARBARA — Last year, a Santa Barbara Harbor Patrol officer was seriously injured after a burglary suspect was asked to stop for questioning. Two patrol officers had been alerted by a boater from Marina One who had noticed two men he was not familiar with going aboard boats. He reported his concerns to the officers.
Santa Barbara Harbor Operations Manager Mick Kronman, stated, “In February 2015, 54-year-old Tony Denunzio pled guilty to a felony charge of ‘Resisting a Peace Officer, Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury to the Officer.’ The sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 5th. The conviction stemmed from a May 2014 contact with now retired Harbor Patrol Sgt. Ed Stetson.”
According to Kronman, Stetson sustained a serious arm injury while attempting to detain Denunzio, who had disobeyed a legal order to “stop” following a report linking him to a possible burglary in Marina One. After the contact that resulted in Stetson’s injury, the suspect fled the scene on foot and was ultimately arrested by Santa Barbara City Police.
Kronman offered this warning to all individuals who are contacted by peace officers: “This conviction should send the message that, whether it’s the Harbor Patrol or any other peace officer, anybody contacted by an officer of the law should comply with their lawful demands. This (felony conviction) resulted from a failure to comply with a lawful order to stop, and what ensued was a contact in which this man severely injured one of our officers.”
Kronman also said that it behooves all boaters and visitors at harbors and marinas to contact the local Harbor Patrol, harbor security or dial 911 when seeing something that doesn’t seem right.
“See something, say something is what we want citizens to do. We rely on the boater community to be our eyes. Our officers cannot be everywhere at once. In Santa Barbara Harbor, we rely on our many liveaboard boaters as well as others to let us know when something needs to be checked out,” Kronman said. He also stated that it is in everybody’s best interest to be aware of their surroundings and individuals who seem like they do not belong in the area.
Kronman stressed the importance of contacting a law officer when you think something is wrong. You can use your marine radio or your cellphone, or contact an officer on foot or as they are patrolling the harbor. Or just dial 911.
Here are a few statistics from Santa Barbara Harbor for 2014: 53 citations for illegal entries (to the marinas) issued; 18 incidents of disturbing the peace (loud party, fighting, drunk and disorderly, etc.); four citations for vandalism; and, 10 for theft and burglary. Annually there are a few arrests made for an outstanding warrant and trespassing charges aboard a vessel without the owner’s permission.
Kronman advises to be aware, be observant and be a good neighbor. He says the harbor has a Dock Captain system. On each finger there is an individual who is responsible for tabulating what happens and reporting these things at regularly scheduled meetings with the Harbor Patrol.
“To be very clear, the Santa Barbara Harbor is very safe; we see similar behavior each year. It is a safe and fun place to be,” Kronman said.