SDPD Captain Retires After 41 Years

Capt. Jim Collins said goodbye to job of 41 years.

After 41 years of service, Capt. Jim Collins is retiring from the San Diego Police Department.

Wednesday afternoon his colleagues lined up, saluting him, as he walked out the doors of the downtown headquarters.

“I’d say it's been a great career,” Collins said. “I've had a good time, I've been very fortunate; I've had some great assignments.”

Those assignments have included many high profile cases like that of Robert Alton Harris. Collins and his partner Steve Baker surrounded Harris' hide-out in Mira Mesa in July, 1975, and took Harris into custody.

They did not know at the time of the arrest, one of the boys Harris had shot in the head was Baker's own son. Collins was the one to give his partner the news.

As head of the robbery unit, he also investigated the Danielle Van Dam case, when he says he and his team worked 16 to 18 hour days, seven days a week to get a solid case against David Westerfield.

“A little girl, totally innocent little girl, taken out of her bed in the middle of the night,” he said with a sad tone.

In his office, a picture of Danielle hangs on the wall beneath a citation for exceptional performance. 

There is also a picture of friend and former San Diego Police Department partner, Julie Cross, killed in the line of duty while working for the Secret Service.  There's also a book of notes dating back to 1972, many from civilians, thanking him for his professionalism, commitment and compassion.

“Homicide is the ultimate crime," he said, "There is no worse crime. The victim can't speak for themselves, so we have to speak for the victim.”

He said he will miss the people who made the job great.

"It's going to be kind of emotional, I'm looking forward to retirement,” Collins said. “I earned it after all this time.”

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