Friday, December 2, 2022     Volume: 23, Issue: 40

Santa Maria Sun / Spotlight

The following article was posted on September 28th, 2022, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 23, Issue 31 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 23, Issue 31

A Santa Barbara County law enforcement program for youth offers new scholarships

By Taylor O'Connor

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Benevolent Posse was founded to help the Sheriff’s Office maintain efficiency, improve morale and effectiveness, and help come up with solutions to the issues surrounding law enforcement. 

As board Chairman Richard Kline explained, the 501(c)3 nonprofit raises funds to supplement equipment and training for the office. Thus far, the posse has raised money for personal protection equipment, protective vests, night vision goggles, specialized weapons, and dogs for the K-9 unit, Kline said. A couple of years ago, the group founded the Sheriff’s Explorers, a program to help youth in the community find a career and receive their education in order to be “successful citizens.” 

Along with receiving training led by a senior deputy, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Explorers are able to put their skills to the test at statewide competitions against others in similar programs.

“The Sheriff’s Explorer program takes young people, eighth grade through the age of 20, who are interested in potential careers in law enforcement,” he said. “It’s an excellent program that gives a wide variety of skills in leadership, communication, public speaking, career planning, and of course areas directly related to law enforcement.” 

Youth enrolled in the program attend meetings once a month where they receive education and training on law enforcement’s code of ethics, the criminal justice system, basic patrol procedures, traffic, daily physical fitness, crime scene investigation, and fingerprinting, Kline said. 

“Annually, they’ll compete in competitions in areas [throughout] California,” he added. “Members are placed in the roles of law enforcement officers in a controlled environment to put their training and knowledge to a test in a variety of scenario-based simulations, giving them a hands-on experience of what a career in law enforcement might entail.” 

Along with getting law enforcement experience, this year, board member Richard Berti gave a $100,000 endowment to create a scholarship program in perpetuity, which will fund two scholarships for $2,500 each, Kline said. 

“We would love to give more than two scholarships, but … the goal is to annually give 4 to 6 percent of the endowment as scholarships, and that will allow the endowment to exist in perpetuity and allow the scholarships to exist,” he said. 

The Benevolent Posse partnered with the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara—which has an existing, “robust” screening process—in order to select the most qualified candidates, Kline said. 

“Each year, the scholarship foundation—in cooperation with the Sheriff’s Office and the senior deputy that manages the explorer program—will select the individuals who will receive the scholarship,” he explained “It will be based on academic performance, based on their dedication to the program, and a variety of other factors that will be reviewed and selected for those who will be most appropriate to receive the support.” 

Financial need will also play a significant factor in the selection process, but the emphasis is on academic performance, commitment to the Explorer program, and future goals, Kline added. 

“I know it’s fully open to anyone interested and adds individuals throughout the year. It does require a commitment of attending at least monthly meetings and being engaged in the program,” he said. “It’s just a terrific opportunity for them to be a part of a program put on by seasoned deputies and to learn from their experience.”

Those interested in joining can email Senior Deputy Dave Robertson at Visit to learn more about the Sheriff’s Benevolent Posse or to contribute to the scholarship program. 


• The Marian Regional Medical Center Foundation announced that the ninth annual Day of Hope event raised $344,720 in support of local cancer patients at Mission Hope Cancer Center. This year’s total exceeds last year’s $316,000. The foundation recognized several community members and teams for their exceptional fundraising efforts. There are two categories of teams—Company Teams embrace their company name and the company’s team effort to fundraise for the cause, whereas Friends and Family Teams are led by an individual or a family. First place company team the Rugged Radios raised $57,350, and the first place friends and family team Passion for Color raised $25,030. 

• Lompoc Parks and Recreation announced that the Lompoc Aquatic Center will host a Dunkin for Pumpkins event on Oct. 23. Starting at 10 a.m., this event will transform the aquatic center’s activity pool into a floating pumpkin patch, where the public is invited to swim and pick a floating pumpkin. Participants can decorate their pumpkins at a decoration station on the patio from 11 a.m. until noon. Pre-registration is required. General admission including a pumpkin is $14, $6 without. Children 6 and under must be within an adult’s reach at all times. Registration can be completed online at

Taylor O’Connor wrote this week’s Spotlight. She can be reached at

Weekly Poll
What do you think about a farmworker resource center in Santa Barbara County?

It's a great way to create a network of collaboration and reach people in need.
It's been needed in the county for a long time and should have been made earlier.
We don't have the funding now, but we should come up with ideas in the meantime.
We don't need it. There are plenty of resources readily available.

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