Introducing the New Sheriff’s Captain Captain Robert Lewis
The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff Station opened its current location in 1971. On April 4th of this year, Robert Lewis became the 18th Captain.
The Santa Clarita Valley is the third safest city in the nation for its size in population. A nice accolade considering the national tensions on multiple fronts. As a long-time resident, the question of security was at the top of my list of questions for the new Chief. Specifically, I wanted to know the view from behind the badge. What are the deputies experiencing in this day and age as they protect our city?
Captain Lewis is a warm, engaging, all-business kind of guy. His office is sparsely decorated and looked identical to the rest of the station. No display of family pictures, awards, diplomas or certifications. Two solitary Captains hats that had the air of “then and now” sat on an empty bookcase on either side of a frame that held an unrecognizable picture. Turns out, this lack of pretense fits his personality quite nicely.
I felt compelled to congratulate him on the promotion to Chief of Police. He felt compelled to switch the focus to our great valley.
“We have 284,000 residents. My goal is to ensure they remain safe, to ensure our valley is a place where people want to live and raise their kids. We are poised to overtake Glendale to become the second largest city in Los Angeles County over the next several years. My goal is to keep crime low and remain the safe city that we are. We will be adding personnel and opening a new station in 2020 to meet the demands of our growing city.”
Captain Lewis has lived in Santa Clarita for 51 years and has been in law enforcement for 33 years. He began as a Community Service Officer in 1985 and then went through the ranks as a Deputy in Malibu and West Hollywood, as a Sergeant and a Lieutenant for 10 years at the Training Bureau in the Advanced Officer Training Unit, as a Lieutenant in Santa Clarita for seven years and in Altadena for two years, and then another short stint at the Training Bureau before being promoted to Chief.
After listing his credentials quicker than I could write, he slowed back around to compliment the Santa Clarita Valley residents.
“I want the citizens to know how much I appreciate their partnership. They have been so great and we can’t do our job without them. I have not seen or heard any negativity towards our officers. In fact, it is just the opposite. Many people have thanked us for our service. We field calls to the station and receive messages on our Facebook page from people letting us know what is happening in their neighborhoods. This is vital to our safety and I couldn’t be more grateful.
“We are continuing the Crime Prevention Unit started by Captain Becker in 2010. The city is broken into eight zones. Crimes are identified and charted, which enables us to target specific areas and send resources there; it’s called predictable policing. We can actually prevent crimes and the community is a vital component in giving us the information. They are doing a phenomenal job.”
Probing a little deeper, I wanted to know about the drugs in our valley and in our high schools. “Henry Mayo alerted us to multiple overdoses back in April of this year. We hired a task force and took three pounds of heroin off the streets that came in from another area. We are as proactive as we can be but I’d like to re-hire the task force. We recently had a Parent Resource Symposium in September as part of the Heroin Kills Initiative. As for marijuana, there are no current stats of misconduct here since the new law passed but measures are being put into place to start tracking. We have a three-pronged approach to drugs: education, enforcement, and intervention. We want our youth off these deadly drugs.”
“You’ve come full circle at this station; what was your passion as an 18 and a half year old when you started here as an intern?”
Leaning back in his chair, eyes gazing up to memories from long ago, he finally reiterated what he’d already been saying. “I just felt that people always need law enforcement to support their community. I love providing that support. I love putting on my uniform every day, seeing kids smiling in the street, the community working with us to keep the entire Santa Clarita Valley safe. I knew at 18 that there was a right and a wrong way to live and I wanted to be on the side of doing the right thing. Law enforcement is still a great career. We are built on the basis of laws, of policies and procedures, and of morals and ethics. There’s nothing I would rather do. I tell my guys every day, you have to stay passionate. It’s the only way to do this job. You must love what you do. If you don’t like it, don’t come back. Stay home.”
photos by Joie de Vivre photographie