There was the day when Deputy Dan Corwin left the San Clemente police station to get a haircut. He drove onto a side street to avoid a construction zone and noticed "a frequent customer of San Clemente Police Services" along the street.The deputy decided to strike up a conversation.
The chat – some of Corwin's colleagues call him "Columbo" because of the folksy, clueless manner that he is known to exude in the style of a TV cop named Columbo – led to recovery of a cache of stolen property and a felony arrest.
Another time, deputies in Dana Point arrested a woman in possession of credit cards that had been stolen in San Clemente. The suspect's car was towed, loaded with bags from Nordstrom and Macy's. Corwin, following up on the credit card case, went to the tow yard, noticed the bags, wrote a search warrant and presented his inventory of the clothing to store security. A security video showed the suspect making repeated purchases, accompanied by a man Corwin recognized from earlier sheriff's dealings in San Clemente. A further look at store security videos revealed him stealing clothing. Arrests resulted.
Those are among stories that San Clemente's chief of police services, Lt. John Coppock, told Thursday at a luncheon where the San Clemente Exchange Club and San Clemente Chamber of Commerce saluted Corwin as San Clemente's Deputy of the Year.
"I love doing police work," Corwin said. "I love working with people. It's really a rewarding job."
Corwin has worked for the Orange County Sheriff's Department since 2001, following nine years with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. He transferred to San Clemente four years ago and called it "the greatest place I have ever worked."
He lives in San Clemente with his wife Chandee. They have four daughters.
"My favorite part of police work is probably making a positive impression on the citizens, people who don't usually have a lot of police contact," Corwin said. "When they do, I want that contact to be positive. A lot of times people perceive us as being negative, and I'm trying to change that. Only maybe 5 percent of the people are bad people who do criminal activity. Most of the people are law-abiding citizens."