Take Five: Thoughts on our very own 'Marshal Dillon'

Marshal Matt Dillon died early this month. Dillon, a man made famous by actor James Arness, left us with memories of a tough Western frontier town coping with lots of bad guys and an occasional bad girl. Yes, I know that it was James Arness who died, but both men were real in our minds.

All of which brings me to our own “town marshal” — Capt. Dave Silversparre, who, as captain of the Crescenta Valley Sheriff's Station, commands a 240 square-mile jurisdiction. We call it the Foothill Frontier.

When I visited him recently, I waited no more than a couple of minutes in the reception-lobby area of his headquarters on Briggs Avenue. And before I even sat down, I heard, “Hi, I'm Dave. Please come in.”

So it was that I met Silversparre for the first time on Memorial Day 2011. From the reception area, Silversparre led me into his office. The best description I can offer is that it was Spartan-plus, neat and functional. It was clear to me there would be no wasted words and little, if any, small talk.

We are protected by a great many dedicated people and Silversparre was quick to give credit to his paid staff of 100 employees and another volunteer staff of about 100 people. The volunteer crews provide search and rescue teams; uniform reserve officers; disaster communications and arson watches, to name a few responsibilities. In addition, they cover reception-desk duties.

The idea, of course, is to keep the deputies in patrol cars.

Property crimes to date this year are down significantly from last year. Nevertheless, Silversparre insists that all of us living in the Foothills must remain vigilant.

Silversparre does have a concern that unemployed people, residents and non-residents alike, might make poor decisions if desperation sets in. He is wary of the many thousands of convicts soon to be released in California. A recent Supreme Court decision has set in motion steps to cut loose prisoners of all stripes.

The Sheriff's Department is well aware of what might become a volatile situation, but the unspoken word at this point is that plans will be in play to combat possible increased crime. Silversparre cautions that all of us need to be attentive to what we're doing as we go about our daily lives and to stay alert.

I've called on hundreds of company presidents, managers at all corporate levels, politicians, non-profit organizations and military commanders. Without fail, every lobby or reception area foretells the culture behind the closed doors. Some cultures are welcoming, some are cold and some are strange, but usually reflect the principles set down by the top person in the building. This office seemed to have an organized rhythm within its working order. I was given the distinct feeling that this was a squared-away command.

There is an old cliché that states, “he has a calling.” It rings true here. Silversparre has wanted to be in law enforcement since he was 7 years old.

Having achieved that goal, he now goes about in an understated way, just like Marshal Dillon would have.

Get in touch

GENE PEPPER is a published author and writer. Contact him by email at gpep@aol.com or phone (818) 790-1990.

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