Coronado Names Drown Police Chief : Law enforcement: The veteran lawman, the losing candidate in the race for sheriff, says he’s going to like running the small Coronado department.
Five months ago, Jack Drown held sway over 700 deputies in the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and was poised to take control of the 2,275-member department as its next sheriff.
Later this month, he will take command of 42 officers and 16 other employees in his new job as Coronado police chief.
City Manager Homer Bludau selected Drown last week from a field of seven finalists to lead the department, beginning April 29.
Because of his 21 years in the department and near-unanimous support from sheriff’s deputies, many thought Drown, then assistant sheriff for law enforcement services, was certain to succeed Sheriff John Duffy last fall.
But, as Drown conceded, he was never able to shed his association with Duffy, whose 20 years in the office were often tumultuous and soured by negative publicity. Favored to win, Drown lost by nearly 60,000 votes to Jim Roache.
In making the selection Friday, Bludau said he had no qualms about Drown making the transition from the Sheriff’s Department to policing Coronado, where there is little crime beyond auto thefts and burglaries.
“I think it takes a special kind of person to go from a large department to a very small department,” Bludau said. “I’m convinced that Jack will be able to make the switch.”
Since the election, Drown, 44, had made it no secret that he wanted to run another local law enforcement agency so he would not have to take his 16-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son out of local schools and move from his Encinitas home.
Half-heartedly, he applied for the police chief’s job in Boulder, Colo., and was one of 12 finalists before he withdrew.
Drown was never out of work. After Roache dismissed all of Duffy’s top managers, Dist. Atty. Edwin Miller gave Drown a job monitoring a grant for law enforcement agencies to keep track of probation violators.
Miller endorsed Drown for sheriff four days before the Nov. 6 election and then allowed him to start his new job the day Roache took office.
Drown’s Election Day loss, which stunned most members of the department who supported him and forced them to sheepishly make peace with the new sheriff, still stings.
“I think I’ll always look back at that and be disappointed,” Drown said. “It was a great opportunity that few people get, a great life experience, but it wasn’t fun. I wouldn’t even want to talk about running again for sheriff.”
For now, Drown will have to set his sights a little lower in a department that has a chief, two commanders, three lieutenants and six sergeants.
He will replace Jerry Boyd, a flamboyant chief who made many of his own arrests and was criticized in his 10 years as chief for seeking publicity. Boyd left the department in January to be chief in the Northern California town of Martinez, in Contra Costa County.
“I’m going to like policing on a small, local level,” Drown said. “Policing is done best when it’s done locally. I’m going to spend a good amount of time talking to folks who live in Coronado and get a good feel for how the community views police services.”
When he joined the district attorney’s office, Drown took a pay cut to $60,000 from the $72,000 he earned annually as assistant sheriff. Bludau said Drown’s salary will be restored to the "$70,000 range” when he takes over the Coronado force.
As chief, Drown will oversee a $2.9-million budget. The department’s most pressing concerns: making sure a new police station in built and open in early 1993 and maintaining crowd control among tourists who will visit San Diego for the America’s Cup yacht races this summer and next year.
Contract negotiations with the 45-member Coronado Police Officers Assn. won’t begin for 18 months, which should make Drown’s first year a bit easier.
Plus, the union membership itself is delighted with the city’s new hire.
“Personally, I think it was one of the best decisions the city has ever made,” said Officer David McCauley, president of the police union. “It’s nice to bring in this kind of talent. It’s just what the department needs. We’re very lucky.”