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SC County: a gold standard for innovative programs

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SC County Supervisor Bruce McPherson

Santa Cruz County has long been the gold standard in innovative programs that have become models for the others. Our Probation Department and the Sheriff’s Office have been recognized time and again.

That innovation starts with the County employees. The Board of Supervisors recently honored individual and teams of employees for exemplary service and new innovations. Some employees literally saved lives. Others worked round-the-clock to provide clean water and open roads.  Although I don’t have space to share every award winner, I wanted to share some of this year’s award-winning teams.

The Data Posse Team was a collaboration between members of the Information Services Department and the Sheriff’s Office to create an app designed to assist Sheriff’s deputies with the collection and retrieval of information over their course of daily interactions in the field. This team developed a system that allows deputies to use their smartphones to scan and enter information directly into the database, resulting in better communication with the public, support for community policing efforts, and enhanced crime-solving capabilities.

     The “Never Forget Relay Team” was a collaborative effort within the District Attorney’s Office, consisting of staff who were inspired to honor the many First Responders who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty for the citizens of Santa Cruz County. In honor of these fallen heroes, this group organized a relay run that held its inaugural event in 2015. Having completed its 3 rd year in 2017, the relay run has raised over $20,000 for the Fallen Officer Foundation in Santa Cruz County, a non-profit group that helps to support First Responders in need.

     The Pre-Trial Services Unit, a group within the County’s Probation Department, worked to resolve inequities driven by the bail system and safely reduce unnecessary incarceration and jail overcrowding through use of a new evidence-based pre-trial tool called the Public Safety Assessment.  Since the implementation of this tool, the Pre-Trial Services Unit has saved more than $2.6 million for the County of Santa Cruz and has become a state-wide model for bail reform.

This past year, the County of Santa Cruz faced a large person to person Hepatitis A outbreak. The Health Services Agency facilitated a coordinated response to control and prevent further infections. The 66 members of the Hepatitis A Outbreak Response Team ensured that investigations occurred, surveillance was enhanced, vaccines were made available, access to sanitation was increased, and partnerships were established, and eventually, the outbreak was contained.

The Department of Public Works Storm Response Team was honored for their work during the intense 2017 storm season. From responding at all hours to clear landslides and remove debris, to dealing with roadway failures and monitoring the Pajaro River, this team put forth extraordinary effort during these stressful times. This team was even part of a rescue effort and saved a life one evening when they noticed an individual floating down the Pajaro River. They jumped into action, throwing a lifeline to the individual, pulling him out of the water, and drying him off. They even purchased and provided him with dry clothes.

The Monterey Bay Community Power team is the result of an extraordinary five-year effort to bring together 19 separate city and county jurisdictions in a joint powers agency. Monterey Bay Community Power was established in early 2017, and will provide long term, self-sustainable energy for customers using alternative power sources such as solar and wind. The team has brought significant benefits to the local and regional community, including energy cost savings, the creation of local jobs, an increase in the use of renewable energy sources and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

It's been an honor to work with these people. I am continually impressed with the exceptional employees in the County “family.”

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