SAN MARCOS — There’s a new sheriff in town.
Meet Capt. Dave Brown, who recently took over command of the San Marcos sheriff’s substation.
Brown said he plans to stay in place between two and five years, but will retire in five years one way or another.
“I am going to sleep in, work on growing a beard and travel,” he said.
In the meantime, he said he will work to keep his portion of the county safe and livable.
“We have the second lowest crime rate of the 18 cities in the county (with a freeway),” he said. “I’m proud of that.”
And according to Brown, Cal State San Marcos was named one of the safest universities in the state.
“That is determined by crime rate in the city where the university is located,” Brown said.
Poway comes in slightly higher as the county’s safest city.
His career path with the sheriff’s office began in 1991 when he worked at Vista’s juvenile hall and then at the county jail. Next he worked patrol in Vista and then all the way up to the command of a couple of substations, now including San Marcos proper with a population of nearly 100,000. The rest of his area of geographic responsibility is far flung, including Deer Springs, the Lawrence Welk area and Valley Center with four casinos in the area.
Brown thinks his job these days is rather low key including overseeing budgets, personnel, discipline and serving as a department head with the city. However, over the years, he has been in just about every level and job in the department.
Brown has previously worked organized crime and did a three-year tour in homicide, investigating many high-profile cases.
Most notably, Brown was assigned the double murder of Chelsea King, 17, of Poway, and Amber Dubois, 14, of Escondido.
In 2010, 30-year-old John Albert Gardner III was arrested and convicted for the kidnapping, rape and murder of two young girls after authorities found their remains in shallow lakeside graves.
“(Gardner) will be in for life,” he said.
Brown said he lost some sleep over those cases, especially when Amber’s body was discovered only two miles from his daughter’s school and she happened to be 14 at the time.
For Brown, three years working homicide detail was long enough.
“You know what they say about a wheel barrow,” Brown said. “You can only fill it up so much.”
After nearly 30 years in law enforcement, Brown said he has seen alot of changes in policing that have helped make the workload a little easier.
“I would say that computers in patrol cars and facial recognition, which is hand-held and getting better all the time,” Brown said.
Brown remembers learning for the first time that not everyone likes cops and the word came from a 4-year-old boy riding a Big Wheel. Brown and another officer were trying to get into a locked outer gate of an apartment building to answer a loud, glass-breaking, yelling, screaming domestic violence call.
They asked the small boy who was inside if he would open the gate for them.
“He asked, ‘Are you cops?’” Brown said. When they said they were, the little boy said, “’expletive’ cops,’ and road away on his Big Wheel.”
There were good days, bad days and days that still bring a chuckle, he said, like a finding a couple on a lovers’ lane “engaged in an act.”
Brown recalls asking for both their IDs and learning they had the same last name and the same address. These 70-year-old lovers had been married for nearly 50 years.
“It’s been a good ride and I have no regrets,” Brown said.