Crime rate drops under Bovet’s watch
By Karen Brainard
The day after Christmas will be Lt. James Bovet’s last day as commander of the sheriff’s Ramona substation. He has been promoted to captain and assigned to head the Santee station.
“This has been a great place to work,” said Bovet, a Ramona resident. “And I’m really glad that I had the opportunity to work here. I’m going to miss it.”
He views his new role overseeing the sheriff’s Santee patrol station, along with the Alpine substation, as a great opportunity. After being in charge of 26 people at the Ramona substation, Bovet will manage 140 employees.
Lt. Hank Turner with the sheriff’s narcotics task force will replace Bovet at the Ramona station. Bovet said Turner has approximately 20 years in law enforcement, a lot of experience, and, like Bovet, has a background in drug enforcement.
“He’s the perfect replacement to come up here and keep this station moving in the same direction that it’s currently at,” said Bovet. “He was the lieutenant in charge of the operations for our high school undercover here in Ramona. So he knows the issues in Ramona as far as it comes to drug sales and drug trafficking.”
Turner’s first day at the Ramona station will be Dec. 27.
Cracking down on drugs has been a pivotal part of Bovet’s command at the Ramona substation. By doing so, he and his team of deputies have been able to reduce crime, he said.
Bovet came on board in September 2012 and said he saw increased crime as a catastrophic event for Ramona.
“It was out of control,” he said. “We had the biggest, the highest, largest increase in violent crime and property crimes than any other jurisdiction in the county, if you remember. It was outrageous.”
Burglaries had risen about 37 percent and violent crimes had jumped even more, he added.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said. “And so we came together as a team here and put together some strategies to combat it and I think it shows.”
The crime rate has dropped about 48 percent he said, calling that “pretty amazing.” He credits the entire team at the station.
“When I came here calls for reported crimes were increasing and our calls for service were increasing. And our deputy-initiated calls and arrests were decreasing,” said the lieutenant.
The station now experiences the opposite.
“That’s why we see such a drop in our crime rate here,” said Bovet.
“I know that drug sales in this town were pretty prolific. You could literally spend about 20 minutes on Main Street and you could buy heroin when I got up here. And it’s pretty difficult to buy drugs in town right now. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but…they fear getting arrested now and I don’t believe they were too worried about it before.”
High points of his 15 months here were two undercover drug operations. Operation Mountain Shadow, a year-long multi-agency drug bust in Ramona and Poway, culminated in September with over 65 arrests — the majority in Ramona. In addition, the undercover high school drug sting, dubbed Operation A Team, at Ramona, Poway and three other high schools, yielded four arrests in Ramona.
In the future, Bovet sees AB 109, the state law that realigns low-level inmates from state prison to county jails, becoming an issue for deputies. For crimes considered minor, they do not receive much jail time, he said.
“So because of that, the deputies have to be in a continual cycle to go check on these people we know are habitual criminals and the people who are on probation or parole,” he said. “We’re going to be constantly knocking on these guys’ doors that we know are responsible for crimes and making sure that they’re following the law.”
According to the lieutenant, a significant number of people in Ramona are on probation or parole.
The town benefits, he said, from the fact that many of the deputies live or have a vested interest in the community.
“The deputies who work here really enjoy this community. And they know they get a lot of support from the community and that makes a difference in their jobs,” he said.
The station, however, needs more personnel, he noted, but it is difficult to hire people and there have been budget restrictions.
Advice he would give his successor is to let his deputies do their jobs.
“I know he agrees with our missions right now…so I don’t think there will be any misstep here at all. I think he’s going to do great,” Bovet said of Turner.
The Citizens Advisory Group that Bovet started will continue under the new command, he said.
- Ramona crime rate spikes in 2012, report shows
- Ramona crime continues to drop as arrests increase
- Apartments become certified in Crime Free Multi-Housing
- Sheriff’s Ramona substation has new lieutenant
- Apartment managers become certified in Sheriff’s Crime Free Multi-Housing program
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