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New Encinitas sheriff’s captain taking the reins

Capt. Theresa Adams-Hydar.
( / Courtesy photo)

Theresa Adams-Hydar wants open lines of communication between law enforcement officials and residents.

That’s one of her main goals as Encinitas’ new sheriff’s captain.

In her role, Adams-Hydar is in charge of not only Encinitas, but also Solana Beach, Del Mar and unincorporated areas such as Rancho Santa Fe.

“We want people to be our eyes and ears out there,” she said. “Likewise, we want people to understand what we do and how we can help.”

Adams-Hydar noted the city of Encinitas and the Sheriff’s Department recently teamed up on a monthly crime report, which can be found on the city’s website (ci.encinitas.ca.us).

Plus, the department bolstered its social media presence when it launched a Facebook page earlier this year.

The purpose of the communications push: keep residents in the loop regarding crime trends and in some instances help detectives identify suspects.

“If people don’t know about crime trends, they don’t know and they’re unprepared,” Adams-Hydar said. “And if they’re unprepared they can’t help us. We can’t be good partners.”

Another example of facilitating dialogue: the Sheriff’s Department periodically hosts “coffee with the community” events in which Encinitas residents can share concerns and exchange ideas with law enforcement officials.

Adams-Hydar said better communication also “dispels myths surrounding law enforcement.”

“Law enforcement is mysterious,” she said. “Sometimes people think what they see on TV is real.”

For instance, Adams-Hydar said some falsely believe officers spend most of their time writing tickets and arresting people. In reality, educating residents, research and proactive policing make up the lion’s share of the job.

“I want people to know what we do, what we can do and what we don’t do — and how we can work together,” she said.

Adams-Hydar lives with her husband and two children in North County. Last month, she replaced Capt. Robert Haley, who retired.

She grew up in Oceanside and graduated from the University of San Diego in 1993 with a degree in international business.

Unsure of what to do after college, she began pondering law enforcement. For one, she thought her analytical mind suited the career.

Additionally, Adams-Hydar had a positive impression of police work because her father, who retired as a sergeant, worked in the field for 33 years.

But she wondered if gender would be an issue.

“For a female, it wasn’t something that was encouraged, even in the early ‘90s,” she said, adding that she initially worried about the physical and mental requirements.

However, completing the Sheriff’s academy dissipated those concerns. And tackling her first assignment as a jail officer eliminated any second thoughts.

“You learn the tricks of the trade and gain experience and confidence,” said Adams-Hydar, who has a poster with an illustration of a female police officer with the tagline “Girls Can’t WHAT?” hanging in her office.

She’s spent most of her career in North County, including commanding the North County Regional Gang Task Force.

In 2004 the Veterans of Foreign Wars recognized her as the nation’s deputy of the year for bringing taggers to justice in Vista.

Working to stop graffiti taught her the “nuts and bolts of law enforcement,” she said.

“It was the old-fashion way of talking with the right people, getting information and coordinating with schools to get a case together,” Adams-Hydar noted.

Along similar lines, she said it’s important that law enforcement officials make an effort to get to know residents and business owners, what’s known as community-orientated policing.

With this approach, she said, officers can better share and gather valuable information.

At the same time, she’s a believer in the department’s “information-led policing” philosophy. By pouring over computer software showing where and when past crimes occurred, the department identifies trends and deploys personnel accordingly.

“For effective law enforcement, you really need to have both approaches working together,” Adams-Hydar said. “There’s a time and a place for each.”

“It’s trying with limited resources, but I think we’ve been successful,” she added.

Adams-Hydar also has her eye on the downtown bar scene, as some residents believe the area has gotten too rowdy at night.

The city recently hired another code enforcement officer, which will help Sheriff’s deputies investigate issues and make sure bars have the proper licenses, she said.

“We’re taking a proactive approach,” she said, adding that she wants bar owners and community members to “find a happy medium.”

Residential burglaries are also on her radar. One aspect of solving the problem is for residents to lock their homes and cars, she noted.

“Some see us as a sleepy little beach community,” she said. “While that’s great, we still have to been vigilant and not allow ourselves to be victims.”

She said Encinitas is unique in that a lot of the people committing crimes don’t necessarily live in the city. Hence, she added, community tips are important in locating suspects.

“We want citizens to be proud of the services we provide,” she said. “And we want them to feel secure when they lay their heads down at night.”


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