New commander takes post at sheriff’s Ramona station
By Karen Brainard
With nearly 22 years of law enforcement experience in San Diego County, Lt. Hank Turner, the new commander of the sheriff’s Ramona station, is no stranger to the issues facing the community.
He comes to the Ramona station after serving two years on the sheriff’s Narcotics Task Force. His work there included supervising the 2013 undercover drug operation, known as Operation A Team, at Ramona, Poway and two other high schools that led to 19 arrest warrants, and dealing with an outdoor marijuana grow in the Ramona business park in 2011.
“I’ve been up here a lot. First time up here for patrol but I’ve been up here in this community a number of
times,” Turner said on Jan. 2. “It’s a nice area, I know a lot of people up here.”
Turner replaces James Bovet, who was promoted to captain and assigned to the Santee station. Santee and Lakeside are areas that Turner knows well as he formerly worked patrol in those communities.
According to Turner, this is not the first time he has taken over for Bovet, as he did so after Bovet served as a sergeant in the sheriff’s child abuse unit.
Turner compared his experience both times to taking over a ship right after it’s been repaired.
“I think my predecessor, James, and the deputies here are doing a lot of really good work,” he said. “They’re concentrating on that 1 percent — the people that are actually out doing crimes that are victimizing the people that are living here. We’re going to continue that, which is to deal with the people that are causing the issues.”
During Bovet’s watch at the Ramona station, the community saw a 48 percent drop in the crime rate. Turner said that was accomplished by targeting drug offenders, repeat offenders and violent offenders, and he continues to do the same. His goal is to keep the crime rate from rising again.
“That’s one of the things, when you have a large reduction like that, it usually rebounds a little bit,” he said. “We’re going to do the best we can to keep it down at the level it’s at now.”
Both Bovet and Turner have backgrounds in drug enforcement.
For two years Turner ran the Narcotics Task Force with a Drug Enforcement Administration supervisor and a San Diego Police Department lieutenant, overseeing a staff of about 100.
“I think some of the experience I gained there will be very, very helpful in dealing with some of the issues they were facing up here, and I think that’s part of why they picked me to come up here,” he said.
Turner said if he sees a spike in minor-related drug issues or drug deaths, he would probably look at another undercover operation in the high school.
“The main priority is just their safety,” he said. “The impact those chemicals, those drugs have on minors is just incredible. I think they’re underestimated. I think as more research shows, it’s one thing if the adult chooses to smoke cigarettes or marijuana or drink alcohol, but the impact that those things have on teens and adolescents as they’re going through all those hormonal changes, it’s just very, very dangerous.”
He considers marijuana a gateway drug and said when they find a person with methamphetamine or another hard drug, that person also has marijuana.
Honey oil labs are a dangerous emerging drug trend in the county, he said.
“Basically you take the marijuana and inject some kind of agent into it — butane is a popular one — and it draws the THC out. The problem is during that process it’s very, very flammable and it gives off a gas and when the gas ignites it explodes,” he explained.
Although Turner said his focus will not just be on narcotics, he knows the drug use impacts the quality of life for the residents.
His primary goal is to have the public feel confident that they live in a safe community.
He also believes in letting his deputies do their jobs effectively and in supporting them, which he said seems simple, “but there’s a lot of bureaucracy.”
“I feel lucky to take over a place that’s being as well run as the Ramona station was,” said the 44-year-old lieutenant, who joined the sheriff’s department when he was age 23.
Although he and his family do not live in Ramona, Turner said he plans to get out to meet residents and get to know the community better.
“I love my job and I try to do my job to show how I love working in law enforcement,” he said.
According to Turner, a high point in his career was his time in the child abuse unit where they experienced an arrest rate almost 100 percent over the previous two years.
The lieutenant also brings emergency management experience to the Ramona station.
- Crime rate drops under Bovet’s watch
- Sheriff’s undercover drug operation nets 65 arrests in Ramona and Poway
- Sheriff’s Ramona advisory group gets updates on crimes, touts need for teen activities
- Sheriff’s Ramona substation has new lieutenant
- Sheriff’s advisory group meets Thursday
Short URL: http://www.ramonasentinel.com/?p=30208