First published in the Dec. 23 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
Several members of the La Cañada Flintridge community attending the final City Council meeting of the year Tuesday were introduced to the new sheriff in town.
Lt. Robert Hahnlein provided a public safety update and did so as acting captain, a position that was appointed to Todd Deeds more than two years ago.
“I’ve been here maybe five weeks now,” Hahnlein told the Outlook Valley Sun in a phone interview, “and it’s been a good experience. Everyone here is very friendly and has been very welcoming.”
Deeds has been on medical leave and it is uncertain when or if he will return. Hahnlein, 62, said Deeds “may retire next year” and would like to prolong his stay at the Crescenta Valley station should the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department allow it.
“It’s all up to the whim of the sheriff. The sheriff gets to move around employees however he wishes and I’m hoping that if I do enough to be selected that I get to stay here for the remainder of my career here at the station,” Hahnlein said.
La Cañada Flintridge and neighboring cities under the watch of the local station aren’t foreign to Hahnlein, who lives in La Crescenta and has worked in law enforcement since 1990. He worked patrol at the Altadena station for a decade before being promoted to sergeant at the CV Sheriff’s Station and then was assigned between Santa Clarita to the station in downtown Los Angeles before finding his way back to CV.
Aside from the fact that he is minutes away from the station, Hahnlein said he enjoys working at the Crescenta Valley station because of the support from the community and city officials.
“They’re very pro law enforcement and a very tight-knit,” he said. “The city, in particular the city manager, loves the community and wants to make sure that it’s a safe community for everyone to live there and for everyone to feel comfortable in their homes.”
Prior to Hahnlein’s arrival, crime had been trending downward in LCF and the acting captain hopes to maintain that. There were 226 Part I offenses — serious crimes that include homicide, rape, robbery, burglary, theft, arson and aggravated assault — reported through November. In comparison, there were 260 Part I offenses in the same time period last year and 307 in 2019.
“I’ve got a lot of great support from my supervisors here, and so far it’s a smooth running ship. Todd left me in good hands, and I want to continue that,” Hahnlein said.
Residential burglaries have gone down 25% in 2021 and grand theft autos dropped 39%. Hahnlein credits the Flock safety camera system throughout the city as well as residents investing in safety devices, such as the Ring doorbell cameras, for the lower crime rate.
“If more people get involved, we can use those videos in case they see someone suspicious. Some of them even pick up license plate numbers,” said Hahnlein, who also suggested that residents install motion sensor lights outside their homes.
Hahnlein recognizes that the job is easier when there is cooperation and help from the community, which is why engagement is one of his top priorities.
“I want to have the deputies more involved in the communities,” he said. “Some of the events [I attend], I should not be the only one going. I should have some of my supervisors and deputies there so the people get a chance to speak with them and know who they’re talking to. I want [residents to] get a chance to know who is working in their community, and I want to make sure the community feels welcome any time at the station.”
The Crescenta Valley station already boasts a good support system, especially with its volunteer deputies that can issue parking citations and assist the Sheriff’s Department in patrolling the city.
“Those guys are great,” Hahnlein said. “They are the eyes and ears of our department. We love to have them.”
With 2021 winding down, Hahnlein already has one New Year’s resolution as Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s station captain.
“I want to join the [YMCA] and get in better shape because they asked me to run the Baker to Vegas [race],” Hahnlein said, referring to an annual race in which teams of law enforcement officials run 120 miles through the desert. “Oh, boy, I gotta get my running legs back.”