By Dave Schwab
Twenty-three year police veteran Albert Guaderrama, fledgling captain of San Diego Police Department’s Northern Division, is undaunted by the challenge of enforcing the law within a 41-square mile area of nearly 220,000 inhabitants serving a dozen neighborhoods.
“My mission, every captain’s mission, is to keep crime down,” said Guaderrama noting Northern is a division with high morale “completely committed to making people’s lives better, and their communities a better place to live.”
Sprawling Northern Division includes Bay Ho, Bay Park, Clairemont Mesa East, Clairemont Mesa West, La Jolla, La Jolla Village, Mission Bay Park, Mission Beach, North Clairemont, Pacific Beach, Torrey Pines and University City.
Serving under Guaderrama is a division staff of 145 officers including detectives, with a coastal contingent that patrols beach areas swelling with visitors during the summer tourist season.
“I would say it’s double in terms of the number of people actually visiting our beaches (in summer),” said Guaderrama, adding police seasonally beef up beach staff, especially during busy Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day holiday weekends. “We actually bring in additional beach teams, train them on bikes, make them very visible with seven-day coverage at night as well as daytime,” he said.
A native San Diegan, Guaderrama has served in numerous capacities, and in far-flung locales from San Ysidro on the Mexican border to downtown San Diego during his long tenure on the police force.
He patrolled both Central Division and Gaslamp sections of downtown San Diego, noting both are “very busy like beach areas.”
Northern Division's captain also spent some time in neighborhood policing and crime prevention, as well as doing stints in internal affairs, economic crimes, the narcotics division and backgrounds and recruiting.
Working side by side with local communities is a high priority for him.
“We work with people to make their homes and neighborhoods safer focusing on quality of life issues,” Guaderrama said, adding “people want to be able to feel secure in their homes and enjoy the neighborhoods they live in.”
The best way for people to network, said Guaderrama, is to show up at community forums and become active in their neighborhoods.
Regarding the growing number of squabbles at La Jolla’s Children’s Pool between pro-seal and pro-beach access proponents, Guederrama said: “We’re out to preserve the peace and make sure no criminal activity takes place. When we’re called we’ll make sure both sides are separated and that everyone is getting along. If criminal activity has actually taken place, then we’ll go ahead and take action.”
Asked what message he’d like to get out to the public, Guaderrama said, “We’d be happy to walk people through setting up a neighborhood watch program,” adding, “We always suggest people do target hardening in neighborhoods: keep their doors and windows closed, lock their cars and don’t keep things of value in plain view so burglars or criminals want to go somewhere else. Make yourself a hard target so that you don’t become a victim.”