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Nils Bentsen: 'Incarceration works every time'
Hesperia Christian grad takes over as city's top cop
Nils Bentsen's promotion earlier this month to captain of the Hesperia office of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department is a homecoming for him, once again.
Bentsen's family originally moved to the city in 1975, when there were no streetlights on Main Street, just a stop sign at Main and I Avenue. He met his future wife in 5th grade at Hesperia Christian School, where he’d later graduate. After graduating Hesperia Christian in 1983, Bentsen spent six years in the Navy. Following his discharge, he applied for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, inspired by crewmates who were also heading to careers in policing.
“It seemed like it would be a fun profession and worked very well with skills I had learned in the Navy,” he said.
His 24-year career with the sheriff’s department took Bentsen all over the county, including more than 10 years with the department’s SWAT team, including back home as a patrol sergeant eight years ago.
“There’s quite a bit of improvement compared to last time” he served in Hesperia, Bentsen said, starting with the new police station the sheriff’s department now operates out of, instead of the former Circle K store on Santa Fe Avenue that previously served as their base of operations.
Sheriff Rod Hoops contacted Bentsen about the possible new posting in mid-June, asking about his connection to the city. Bentsen took over from Captain Steve Higgins on July 1.
“Capt. Higgins did a great job here,” he said. “I want to get a better chance to know my personnel ... before I rush to make any changes.”
Bentsen will be getting the benefit of three additional patrol deputies, whom he said should be added to the station’s roster “soon.”
Otherwise, his approach to law enforcement is a back-to-basics “relentless” pursuit of criminals.
“Incarceration works every time,” he said. “If there’s a crook and you take him off the street, he’s no longer committing any crimes.”