Sheriff’s Captain Herbert Taft holds virtual forum with Del Mar Foundation


Sheriff’s Captain Herbert Taft discussed crime, mask requirements, helicopters, wildfires and a few other local topics during a virtual forum hosted by the Del Mar Foundation on Sept. 22.

Taft has been with the county sheriff’s department for more than 20 years and has led the North Coastal Station since 2018. He told the 20 people who participated in the online meeting that he didn’t want to discuss social issues or any of the larger issues surrounding policing in the U.S. But he said he and his deputies “treat everybody the same.”

Captain Herbert Taft

“You can’t go wrong that way,” he said.

Enforcing the mask mandates that have been in place since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the major points of emphasis for sheriff’s deputies.

“I have to admit there were a lot of aspects of it that were very confusing for people,” Taft said. “Not everybody keeps up on the latest order, and it seemed to be changing every week or two.”

He noted the sometimes competing orders that came from state and county officials. The city of Del Mar stepped up mask enforcement in August when the City Council decided to hire part-time deputies to enforce the public health orders. Signs have been placed throughout the city reminding residents and visitors to wear masks.

“I’ve found that if you just talk to people and tell them, most people are actually compliant, especially in this community,” Taft said. “They just didn’t know or they just needed to be reminded.”

With wildfires burning 3.1 million acres in California so far this year, Taft said the sheriff’s department gets extensive training on procedures for evacuations and working with other agencies to respond.

“We’re really good at it, probably because we’ve had so many of them,” he said.

Taft also addressed the complaints that many Del Mar residents have had about helicopters that fly over the city, sometimes at low altitudes. He said there are often military, coast guard and news media helicopters, in addition to sheriff’s helicopters.

When the sheriff’s department does take flight, he added, it’s often because of a missing person, in many cases adults with dementia or children. Residents have also complained that announcements blaring from helicopters are often inaudible.

“My folks are trained to put it out on Nextdoor,” Taft said. “That’s about the best way I can try to reach a large amount of people, because this community loves Nextdoor. That’s great. But there is a lot of misinformation on Nextdoor also.”

On crime in general, Taft said most of the crime in Del Mar is committed by nonresidents. The same is true of neighboring communities patrolled by the county sheriff, including Solana Beach and Encinitas, he said.

Taft also urged residents to call the sheriff’s department if they see or suspect a crime, instead of contacting the city or posting about it on social media.

“Del Mar is honestly a relatively safe place,” Taft said. “You live in a great city.”