Arriving parents and the students they were dropping off in front of the San Dieguito High School Academy may have been concerned on the morning of September 11.
From out in front of the campus at 800 Santa Fe Drive, one could not help but notice the numerous sheriff’s patrol cars heading west. Although without their sirens on, it was very clear, said witnesses, that the cars were traveling in unison at a high rate of speed.
More neighbors became concerned as the sheriff’s helicopter circled over the Cardiff and west Encinitas communities for almost an hour. A call to the sheriff’s media office stated that there was no major crime in progress; it was just “an operation, but nothing important.”
Several parents stated they were very concerned, knowing that their kids were attending one of the five schools underneath the helicopter’s flight pattern. “They could have picked a different day than 9/11,” said an angry parent I spoke with after learning there was no danger to the schools.
On September 12, Encinitas sheriff’s officials confirmed that the show of force was part of Operation Neptune, a North County sweep to check up on over 50 parolees on probation. The operation, while focusing on the Encinitas and Leucadia areas, included checks as far east as Rancho Peñasquitos and north to Vista. (One may speculate the name of the operation came from the long, bluff-top street in Leucadia — Neptune Avenue.)
The helicopter was used to assist in case there were any problems, and SWAT teams were standing by if needed. Of the 15 people arrested for parole violations, which included weapons or drugs, 7 were from Encinitas.
Over 70 deputies from sheriff substations around the county participated in the five-and-a-half-hour operation — what a published report labeled “a proactive approach to ensure those on parole and probation are complying with the conditions of their release.” The checks may also help in future investigations into theft and drug crimes.