With 24 years experience in the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, 13 of those serving the Fallbrook/Bonsall community, Corporal Tom Vrabel has been selected to fill an open position in the detective bureau at the Fallbrook Substation.
The position became open after Detective Leo Rodrigues accepted a transfer to Chula Vista. Substation commander Lt. Phil Brust didn’t hesitate to give the job to Vrabel.
“Not to take away from anyone else, but [Vrabel] is going to be a breath of fresh air; the community is going to benefit from him being in this position,” said Brust.
Well-known in the business community after cultivating relationships during a six-year stint on a special Community Oriented Policing & Problem Solving (COPPS) program, Vrabel has long established himself as a law enforcement officer dedicated to the Fallbrook community.
“We accomplished a lot of goals in the COPPS program,” said Vrabel. Given his past successes, Brust said Vrabel easily could have accepted positions offered by other stations.
“Because of his commitment to the community, [Vrabel] has turned down detective positions in other parts of the county and waited for an opening here,” said Brust. “That speaks volumes as to his concern and respect for this community.”
“I did turn down a couple of other positions because I love working and I’d like to complete my career here,” said Vrabel.
Vrabel, 47, has served many years as a patrol deputy, training officer, and acting sergeant on numerous occasions during his tenure.
“He is the optimal deputy sheriff,” said Brust. “He has a longstanding commitment to excellence in field work; he is dedicated to the job and the community; he is an excellent role model and his past work ethic and experience makes him perfect for this position.” Brust said he expects Vrabel to experience success in his new job.
“His knowledge of policies, procedures and statutes, necessary to be an investigator or detective, is outstanding,” said Brust. “He is also very personable and has a great sense of humor.”
Vrabel said he is looking forward to following up on the leads deputies provide to solve crimes. “I didn’t have the time when I was on patrol to do too much follow-up. Now I will be able to dig deeper into investigations.”
Vrabel will join three other detectives currently assigned to the Fallbrook command – Jeff Lauhon, Dan Laibach and Jim Pucillo. Given the case load for the four positions, Vrabel can look forward to being very busy, Brust said.
“He will be handling investigations on a range of crimes - burglary, sexual assault, assault with a deadly weapon, and everything in-between,” said Brust.
His long-term knowledge of the activities on the streets of Fallbrook will be of benefit, Vrabel indicated.
“I know the geography, the players, the people and I’ve made a lot of friends,” he said.
With his level of experience, Vrabel will have plenty of work sent to his desk, Brust said.
“He will probably be carrying 20 to 25 workable cases per month. They are very busy because of the way the community is expanding,” said Brust. The lieutenant said he is confident that he has made the right choice for the position.
“[Vrabel] will be a great addition to the detective bureau,” said Brust. “He is enthusiastic and motivated.”
Although the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) statistics report that slightly over 49,000 people reside in the Fallbrook area, Brust said he estimates the number to be closer to 60,000.
“I’m adding in the transient population that comes in and out that isn’t counted,” he said.
When asked how many detectives he would like to have assigned to the Fallbrook command area for optimal coverage, Brust said, “I would double our detective bureau, that way they would have the freedom to work cases that sit to the side on their desks.”
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