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The Face of Public Safety in Downtown Santa Monica

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Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Convention and Visitors BureauWhen one lives in a city as breathtakingly beautiful and unique as Santa Monica, inevitably that city will be shared with visitors.

By Jason Islas
Lookout reporter

March 10, 2014 -- When Sgt. Candice Cobarrubias is on duty, she’s more than a police officer. She is an ambassador, an educator and a protector to those who visit Downtown.

Since October, Cobarrubias has overseen the eight officers who police Third Street Promenade, a bustling international destination that draws thousands of visitors a day.

“We are the faces of Santa Monica,” Cobarrubias says. “You’re going to see us first.”

Being seen is one of the biggest parts of her job, she says, adding that maintaining a police presence not only helps visitors feel safe, it also helps to deter crime.“I know I’m doing my job whenever someone tells me, ‘You’re everywhere!’” she says. “We’re not everywhere. I’ve only got four or five guys every shift.”

Cobarrubias started her career in law enforcement 18 years ago with the Los Angeles Police Department.

She worked in Hollywood and South Central L.A. before joining Santa Monica’s force in 2000.

She’s executed tactical operation plans and search warrants, and prepared victims and witnesses for courtroom procedures. She’s worked on the Crime Impact Team, created special team operations and headed the arson task force.

As a detective for the economic crime division, Cobarrubias worked to solve cases of fraud, forgery and identity theft. Her experience, she says, has come in handy patrolling a bustling business strip where theft is the most common form of crime.

“I think coming to the Promenade and having that in my background really helps,” she says.
Most of the crimes committed on the Promenade and in Downtown are “crimes of opportunity,” Cobarrubias says, and during the holiday season, the throng of distracted shoppers can provide plenty of opportunity for criminals.

“Because (Downtown) is such a tourist attraction, we’re highly, highly populated,” she says, adding that it was a challenge to start overseeing the Promenade so close to the holiday season.
Cobarrubias expects that her post will soon be expanded to include all of Downtown.

“I’m hoping to stay here for at least a couple years,” she says. “My hope is that I bring something to Downtown and make it a better place for everyone.”

Downtown Santa Monica is more than just her workplace. It’s also an off-duty destination for Cobarrubias, who lives in Long Beach with her wife and three dogs.

And it’s a favorite destination for Cobarrubias’ in-laws. An ideal afternoon outing with her family often includes “lunch at Tender Greens or somewhere on the Promenade and a walk on the beach,” Cobarrubias says.

Between the street performers, the tourists and the locals, Downtown’s top cop says, “it’s an eclectic kind of place.”

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