New Northern Division Captain shares vision of community police work

Stephany Rose is the new Northern Division Police Captain
Stephany Rose is the new Northern Division Police Captain
(María José Durán)

Stephany Rose, who last month became the new Captain of the San Diego Police Department Northern Division (which includes La Jolla), said her first police assignment was as a bike patrol officer in the Southern Division.

Now 23 years later, she’s been involved in diverse areas of the force, including Internal Affairs, Vice operations, sex crimes and the centralized telephone report unit. The 51-year-old was promoted to Captain in April 2015, and led the Northwestern Division until a few weeks ago when she switched posts with former Northern Division Captain Mark Hanten. Rose said the change was a part of the police department’s personal growth policy.

“I’d been at Northwestern for four years, so Chief Shelley Zimmerman wanted to give me an opportunity to work something different, and the same with Captain Hanten,” Rose said.

Hanging on one of the walls in her office, above a whiteboard showing shifts and work assignments, is a straw broom fashioned into a “vehicle.” It features a bike seat, a witch hood ornament and a license plate that reads “Stephany.”

“It was given to me by my squad at Western years ago. We had an officer who was injured and he always limped, so they gave him a cane that was black-and-white with a little flashing reflector light, like you would have on a bike, and they gave me that. Since then, I bring it with me everywhere.

“My parents and I moved a lot, but I’m originally from Southern California. At one time we lived in Chula Vista. I went to high school in Oregon, and then I came to San Diego for college and never left.”

In discussing the Northern Division beat, Rose said, “I realize each community has different issues, what’s happening in La Jolla is not the same as Clairemont, Pacific Beach, Mission Beach or Fiesta Island. But to me they all have the same priority, as we have to take action with whatever is going on there.”

As to the types of crime that occur in La Jolla, Rose said, “So far most of what I’m understanding is that La Jolla has some quality-of-life issues with transients coming into the area, and this seemed to be increasing overtime, and there are property crimes. It’s similar to the community I just came from.

“We ask our quality-of-life team to come up with solutions; one is to contact the transients moving into the area and find out where they’re from, what can we do to get them resources and back out to wherever they need to be. I also want officers and volunteers, who we use a lot for visibility, to be able to drive all the streets and talk to everybody. That visibility is a huge deterrent we’ve found to be very effective. I want to make sure that any areas where we are starting to see extra property crimes, we add extra patrol, as well as having our officers address anybody with warrants wanted for property crime-type offenses.”

When informed of the direction several communities within La Jolla are exploring to hire a private security force, Rose responded, “Every community needs to do whatever they feel they need to do ... obviously, we can’t be everywhere at once, and neither could a security company. I’ve worked in gated communities that had their own security force, and I’ve worked in communities that did not, but had their own citizens’ patrol, and these can be effective, but they have to be properly trained to be our eyes and ears.

“I don’t know if private security would be beneficial for La Jolla or not, but we will support whatever the neighbors decide to do, and we will always work with Neighborhood Watch groups or private security.”

In response to the short staffing within the police department, Rose said she looks at how to best use the officers on hand. “Chief Zimmerman has started a Community Board where they’ve picked people from each community to help us recruit, and try to get more of the people that are here so we reflect the same demographics,” she explained.

In the next few months, Rose said she plans to attend community and business meetings, to find out what people’s concerns are, “What they see, versus what we see,” she said. “Then when working on problems, sometimes you come up with new municipal codes, other times it’s having that one-on-one and explaining to a group of people why we do what we do, maybe we revitalize an area doing environmental designs, we plant some trees, we paint, we redecorate or we try to change zoning.

“It amazes me how many Neighborhood Watch programs are in the Northern Division, that means the community is really involved, and that’s a good thing, because we cannot do it all ourselves. We have a tendency to look at the law, and enforcing it, but what impact is that having? And without getting that input from someone who’s looking at it from a different viewpoint, you’ll be effective to an extent, but you have to have those multiple viewpoints to be really effective.”

To reach Capt. Steffany Rose: Northern Divison headquarters is at 4275 Eastgate Mall. (858) 552-1700. E-mail: