Escondido Sunrise Rotary; Meeting to Serve our Community in Person and via Zoom; and “Ed Varso,
Our Escondido Police Chief”
May 18, 2023
As we all try to conduct our professional pursuits in new ways, it’s appropriate to remind ourselves of who we are as a Serving Organization… Our accomplishments, our fellowship and the reminder of our many successes is valuable as we seek new opportunities to serve…
We met again in person at the Chamber of Commerce… Great to enjoy the fellowship again and see all your smiling faces…

As a Club, we honored our nation with a salute to our Flag led by Brad Allaband, an invocation was offered by Past President, Jack Anderson…
Guests and Visitors:
Ed Varso, Escondido Police Chief
Now, some Sunrise Rotary member milestones…
Floyd Farley – 5/19
Brad & Kristine Allaband – 33 years this weekend
Rotary Anniversaries:
None this week
Sunrise Rotarians Serving, and Announcements:
Mark your Calendars…
Note some service opportunities coming up…
Rotarians Having Fun and Serving…
All kinds of fun and service and fun…
Pictures are worth a thousand words…
President Tina had a beautiful Mother’s Day playing baseball and bocce ball with her husband and son and also she was so please with the "bell in the cake" for Mother's Day!!
Mike Muehl was fishing with friends
Another great picture of Kevin Svetich and his beautiful wife enjoying Ireland. The question is, are you ever coming home, Kevin?
Hi-Fives & Announcements…
Charles Pretto, our district governor has been diagnosed with leukemia, our thoughts and prayers are with you Charles
Past President Rich Aeling along with President Tina share that Escondido Sunrise Rotary gave several scholarships to our local Escondido high school students through the CTE (Career Tech Education) for kids going to a trade school instead of going the college route.
It's our annual Grape Day 5k fund raiser and we are getting under way with choosing captains, co captains and teams that will work very hard this year to meet our goal!! We can do it!!
Guest Speaker – EPD Chief Varso
Sgt. Chris Lesso introduced Police Chief Varso with the Escondido Police
Department. Chief Varso has an extensive history with EPD starting in 2001 as a police cadet and was subsequently hired as a sworn officer. Chief Varso was a K-9 officer
around the time Chris was hired by EPD. Chris stated he was impressed by Chief
Varso’s work ethic, professionalism, and leadership skills that it came as no surprise to everyone to see him promoted upward within the ranks in a short period of time. In 2020, he was promoted to EPD’s Chief of Police.
Chief Varso shared how policing has been challenged due to the social issues and
current political climate. These issues have decreased the ability for law enforcement to focus on policing from a black and white, good vs bad perspective. Law enforcement is being overly scrutinized by the media and on public opinion forums.
He showed a power point graph showing FBI statistical data of the crime trend in
Escondido. The chart showed a peak of criminal activity in the late 80’s and early 90’s that gradually decreased over time. Although the data showed we are at an all-time low in criminal activity, Chief Varso said he was concerned for where the trend would be shifting as the result of slight peaks and drops. His concern was based on past patterns that showed history might begin to repeat itself and begin to move in an upward spike
without it being documented properly for FBI data reporting. This trend is not exclusive to Escondido, but on a national level. The trend of the crack cocaine pandemic in the 80’s and early 90’s seems to be returning with what is now known as the fentanyl and heroin epidemic. He attributed the peaks in the past to stricter laws and penalties for drug related criminal activity. Currently, what was once considered felony criminal activity has been lessened to either a misdemeanor or citation with on-the-spot releasing of the offender. On or about 2013/2014 Proposition 47and 57, and AB109 decriminalized many of the drug offenses. As the result of the decriminalization of many drug offenses, the street value has dramatically decreased; an ounce of crack cocaine that used to sell for $1,500 is now
being sold for $150, and other manufactured drugs have brought in a higher number of drug manufacturers making it more available. This has definitely increased drug use and the number of new addicts which is at a level that has never been seen before.
Chief Varso then shared some standards he implemented since becoming Chief
of Police that directly impact services to the Escondido. The Escondido General Plan for police response time to calls for service matched his – a 5-minute response time to calls for service to priority 1 and life and death calls (code-3 responses). Priority 2 responses for fights and disturbances are also close to 5 or 7 minutes. The officers have met and/or exceeded the response time. The downside of this is that it limits officers
from being more pro-active in crime prevention methods of being omnipresent on their beat. The police department currently has 11 officers on day watch and only 7 officers on nights and graveyard shifts. They are very under staffed and unable to take a more
proactive approach to crime-prevention as they would like. The officers have no free patrol time. This has been a great challenge for the department and the community feels its impact.
In addition to having the response time standard, Chief Lesso is equally interested in the service response and interactions of the police officers. For this reason, a text review was developed and is sent out to the reporting parties and people they come into contact with. This is a tool used to measure how well officers are providing services to
the community and treatment of individuals they interact with. At the same time, Chief Varso is very mindful on how to measure the replies of the reporting parties as not all are pro law enforcement, especially when they may have been the parties that were arrested
or cited. If there are valid complaints, the review/complaint is followed up on to ensure that officer misconduct does not fall through the cracks.
Chief Varso added that there is a budget challenge to hire more officers. In
addition, there is a shortage of qualified applicants, many applicants don’t meet the standards that EPD is looking for, and underpayment is also an issue as the starting salaries can be a challenge for the officer to afford housing in north San Diego County.
Another challenge facing law enforcement was the passing of Proposition 64 that legalized marijuana. There has been a spike in marijuana use at a high school level. A proactive approach that EPD is taking is to educate kids at a Jr. High and Elementary School level. They are hoping this will deter many from experimenting with marijuana.
Statistics have shown that marijuana is usually the first drug of choice before moving on to more addictive illegal substances.
Chief Varso closed by saying they are constantly looking for ways to improve
service to our community. Some ways include constant legal updates and high level training to the officers on all levels. He will continue to work closely with the city manager, leaders in the community, and residents as he constantly strives to provide the best service and protection for all.
We thank you for your service, Sir, and pray for you and your officer’s protection
in this time when it feels not everyone is pro-law enforcement. Stay safe.
The Opportunity Drawing…
Since the incredible Mother’s Day win last week by President Tina and her daughter Liz, we are starting over with a new pot.
Big Opportunity this week was $111… Brad Allaband picked the lucky card… OOPS Brad, not so quick… The card was not so lucky…
The consolation prize was $11… Past President Jeff Johnson had the lucky ticket and gets to enjoy a lunch on Rotary…
Next Week’s Meeting:
Will be in person and online at the Chamber of Commerce at 7:30 AM on May 25th 
Thanks for Attending Today’s Meeting…
Support for our Escondido Community …
Our great community and the success of its businesses is all of our responsibilities… Support the businesses that are doing all they can to survive during this challenging time… Take out some chow… Be ready to support them when the economy begins working again…
The ‘Giving Arch’ on Grand Avenue and Centre City Parkway reminds us that Escondido is a caring, giving community…
To all; be safe and be well…. God Bless those men and women that carry the load at our medical facilities, and God Bless our first responders… May our governmental leaders be wise, thoughtful and smart as this pandemic is overtaken by our hard work and collective support…
Online Meetings:
Technical Support for Online Meetings:
Our meetings will begin as a hybrid setting with in-person and on-line opportunities…The meetings will be technically managed by President Richard Agnew… Thanks for that Richard… And, Richard is prepared to support all of our attempts at joining the on-line meetings… Look for his email with details and links to log on to the upcoming Zoom meetings…
Watch for emails defining the next meeting. The system works fine, dependent upon your technical support available through your PC or laptop…
SEE YOU SOON……  In Person or ONLINE… Next meeting; May 25th, 7:30 AM at the Chamber of Commerce…
Check President Tina’s e-mail