Lt. Mark Moreno, a 26-year veteran of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and the new commander of Fallbrook Sheriff’s substation, describes himself as “easy going and fair.” He’s also competitive.
Moreno, 50, played on the San Diego Enforcers football team for 22 years and was part of two teams – the 2012 and 2016 squads – that won the National Public Safety Football League championship.
“I retired (from football) after we won the championship last year,” said Moreno, who helped the Enforcers whip arch rival LAPD Centurions 42-0 in the 2016 title game. “I should have done it (retired) in 2012, but I wanted to win it again.”
Moreno, a defensive end, briefly entertained thoughts of playing another season but ultimately heeded the advice of his wife.
“She said, ‘hey, now that you’ve won it and you’ve been playing on the same team for 22 years, it’s time for you to stop,'” said Moreno with a laugh.
Moreno, a gregarious man who laughs a lot, took over as the head man at the Fallbrook substation July 21. He replaced Pat Gardner, who July 20 was promoted from lieutenant to captain and assigned to the court services bureau in downtown San Diego.
Moreno came to Fallbrook from the North Coastal station, where he spent three years serving the cities of Del Mar, Solana Beach and Encinitas. Considering he once lived in Fallbrook, Moreno said he was very happy when he received the news that he had been assigned to take over for Gardner at the Fallbrook substation.
“I love the town,” said Moreno, who resided in Fallbrook from 1999-2003 and also worked patrol in Fallbrook on a temporary assignment in 2003. “I drove around town the other day and things are the same. If I wasn’t such a city kid, I’d still be here.”
A devoted family man, Moreno and his wife have a daughter and a son.
“Morals and values guide me,” said Moreno. “My family is my foundation. If things are going good there and I’m managing my house well, which I have for the last 22 years, I bring that same thing to wherever I’m at.
“That’s what my whole thing is,” continued Moreno. “I bring a lot of what I teach at home to work, which is, ‘hey, you know your family values, bring them to work, and then bring them from work out to the community.’ We all basically have our same values. We’re all searching for the same quality of life.”
Moreno said community relations is paramount and stresses that to his deputies.
“I expect my deputies to treat everybody with respect,” said Moreno. “I tell them, ‘treat people like you would treat your mom.’ That’s what I expect out of them, and that’s what I expect out of myself too. I’m not going to disrespect anybody.”
Moreno is proactive and considers Fallbrook a proactive community.
“I know this is a nice, tight community,” said Moreno. “I mean you can tell from the senior volunteers (Senior Volunteer Patrol), the vacation checks (of homes, performed by the volunteer patrol), and the YANA (You Are Not Alone) program. It’s nice to know that there are so many people out there that care.”
Moreno added that he appreciates feedback from the community.
“My proactiveness is based on what the community wants and what I see and what the deputies see,” said Moreno. “The way I look at it, we represent the community. Whatever the community sees as things that need to be taken care of – things that are a priority – is our priority, and should be our priority, because law enforcement represents society.”
Moreno said a pressing issue in Fallbrook is theft, namely vehicle and residential burglary.
“They are all related, I believe, to those that use drugs,” said Moreno. “I think narcotics is the root of all those types of things. They’re not assaults, they’re property crimes. That’s what they go for. All they’re doing is trying to support their habit.”
Moreno has served in many departments for the Sheriff’s Department – for example, he was in charge of the gang task force in San Marcos as well as the C.O.P.P.S (Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving) unit there – during his long career and consequently has developed many friendships and connections that he’ll use if needed to help make Fallbrook a safer place.
“The Sheriff’s Department has many resources and all we have to do is request them,” said Moreno. “For example, there is the Sheriff’s Analysis Driven Law Enforcement Team (SADLE). SADLE is a proactive team of deputies who utilize data from their crime analyst for any given area. SADLE provides extra law enforcement protection to alleviate or eliminate crime to improve quality of life for the residents.”
Moreno gave an example of when SADLE might be requested.
“If an area had a rise in vehicle burglaries, the SADLE Team could be requested by one of the sheriff’s commands to help with the issue,” said Moreno. “Essentially, the SADLE Team would assist by placing more deputies in the area to thwart vehicle burglaries and target those criminal entities in the area that would be causing the rise in vehicle burglaries.”
Moreno said he is excited about his assignment in Fallbrook.
“I used to live here and it still has that same feel,” said Moreno. “And no matter where you live, you can’t escape those things where law enforcement needs to get involved, but you know what, here (in Fallbrook) you still have those people that want to do the work and give a hoot about what goes on, and I like that.”