By Karen Billing
Captain Albert Guaderrama recently joined Carmel Valley’s San Diego Police Department Northwestern Division as its new leader.
Guaderrama has only been in Carmel Valley three weeks, alongside another new face, Lieutenant Jerry Mills.
Both men said they are ready to jump right into not just serving the community, but working with residents.
“We are going to take a community police approach,” said Guaderrama. “You’re going to see a lot of us out in the community. We want to focus on prevention and teach people to be a hard target for crime.”
A 23-year veteran of the police force, Guaderrama comes to the Northwestern from the Southern Division, which is the division nearest to the Mexican border, serving communities such as Otay Mesa and San Ysidro. Northwestern’s previous Captain, Miguel Rosario, essentially swapped jobs with Guaderrama— Rosario is now in the Southern Division.
“Being a cop is in my blood,” Guaderrama said, listing a long list of family members in law enforcement.
His father and brother are both police officers, and Guaderrama’s wife is a homicide detective in San Diego.
Being in Carmel Valley is a lot different from his experience in the Southern Division, Guaderrama said.
“South Bay has a lot of gang-related [activities], narcotics and a variety of other issues,” he said. “Here, we’re dealing more with car burglaries, home burglaries and juvenile issues.”
Lt. Mills, who has 28 years of experience in law enforcement, also has a family devoted to police work. His father-in law is a policeman, his wife is an officer at Northern Division, and now his son works on patrol in the Southeastern Division.
Both Mills and Guaderrama said the most important issues facing the community are quality of life issues.
Mills relates it to something he experienced in the Northern Division, the process of banning alcohol at Kate Sessions Park. While some people thought it was a police problem, Mills said it was really a quality of life issue, keeping the park and neighborhood safe.
“(The police) supported the community who lived around the park,” Mills said. “That’s like most of the issues that we’ll face up here.”
Guaderrama said Carmel Valley has a very low crime rate and that crime is trending downward overall in the city—the homicide rate is at its lowest since 1968, with 29 homicides committed in 2010.
Carmel Valley’s most significant crime numbers come in the areas of residential burglaries and car burglaries. One of the biggest ways they can get those numbers down is prevention education.
“Thiefs are going for the easy target,” Guaderrama said, noting many people still leave their doors unlocked or valuables in plain sight inside their cars.
Lt. Mills said recently they had a suspect who was going up and down a Carmel Valley neighborhood street looking for unlocked cars that had garage door openers inside. The suspect would then use the garage door opener to enter a residential home.
“Don’t leave your garage door opener in your vehicle if you’re parked outside,” Guaderrama said.
Many crime prevention tips are simple things that people might not even think of, Guaderrama said. He advised to keep shrubbery cut back by the front door of your house, which eliminates hiding places, and have Neighborhood Watch keep an eye on your home. He said to keep homes well lit from the outside and while a breeze is nice through an open window on warmer days, remember to close and lock that window before you leave the house or turn in for the night.
One new addition at Northwestern last year was the prescription drug drop-off box, which Guaderrama said has been very successful. One of only two in the city, it is located outside of the police station and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week to safely dispose of medications.
“People may not understand how prevalent abuse of prescription drugs is amongst our kids. It’s not just a matter of cleaning out your medicine cabinet,” said Mills.
Drop the drugs off with no questions asked and keep them out of the wrong hands, he said.
While there were some concerns about the effect of the failure of Prop D on the police department,
Guaderrama said he does not believe Northwestern will be impacted by any city cuts.
“This is a great division with the committed, outstanding officers here,” Guaderrama said. “They do a great job working with the community and I don’t see us being affected at all.”
Northwestern Division is located at 12592 El Camino Real. For non-emergencies contact them at (858) 523-7000. Community Relations Officer Adrian Lee can be reached at (858) 523-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.