New beach lieutenant ‘living the dream’

By Dave Schwab

Staff Writer

A surfboard in the office of San Diego Police Department’s Northern Division, which includies La Jolla, has a new name on it: Paul Rorrison.

It’s a station tradition for the lieutenants in charge of patrolling the city’s beaches to sign it, which Rorrison did after he replaced Lt. Jim Filley overseeing Northern Division’s 120 service area, which encompasses La Jolla and the beach areas including Sail Bay.

Typically in the office by 5 a.m., on call most of the time and admittedly “very busy, especially during summer,” Rorrison said in an interview at 8:30 a.m. on a scheduled day off. “I’m excited to be here, jumping in with both feet and getting a running start.”

He learned about beach duty working Fourth of July weekends along the coast the past few years.

Rorrison’s a cop through and through.

“I was from the era of ‘Adam 12’ and ‘Dragnet,’ said the officer. He’s originally from the L.A. area who has a “Hawaii Five O”-theme ringtone on his cell phone. “I was in the Coast Guard for four and a half years, then jumped right into law enforcement within a year. Never regretted it. Love it. Don’t know what else I would do because it’s what I’ve always wanted to do: I’m living the dream right now.”

Describing a “typical day,” Rorrison said that doesn’t exist in the “force.”

“No day is the same ever — never a dull moment,” he said, noting he likes to get in early so he can get his office work done. “I want to be out in the field,” he said. “That’s what our core value is, being a patrol officer, being out there in the streets and helping people.”

Most recently, Rorrison was transferred to Northern Division’s beach patrol from internal affairs. He started out in Central Division in downtown San Diego and Logan Heights working patrol before moving to Western Division in a sprawling area that includes North Park, Hillcrest and Midtown, Old Town and Ocean Beach.

Rorrison has been a detective. He’s been involved in narcotics investigations and also has hands-on experience working with domestic violence issues. He’s also served on several homicide task forces, including the high-profile Danielle Van Dam case.

Summing up what he likes most about police work, Rorrison said, “I like people, dealing with people, communicating with them. I like to catch bad guys. I like to try and make people’s lives better. That’s always been the driving force.”

Rorrison said the police force is the central focus of his life.

“This really is my family,” he said. “It sounds cliché, but I spend more time with the people on this job than I do any member of my close family. We’re all tight. You grow to love these people. They’ve got your back — and you’ve got theirs.”

Overseeing beach police operations, Rorrison said his main job is “to facilitate any actions that my captain (Al Guaderrama) directs me to do.”

Typically, said Rorrison, crimes of violence or incidents involving serious injury are the highest priority.

Noting he’s been doing police work for a long time, Rorrison added he doesn’t anticipate stopping anytime soon.

“I think I’ve got a lot to contribute still,” he said.