Lt. Slater Set to Retire


After 33 years of service with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept., Lt. Mark Slater is retiring. Slater is familiar to many in the community. He has been at the Crescenta Valley Station for over a decade.

“I first came here in 2005,” he said.

Prior to coming to the CV Station, Slater was at Santa Clarita for 12 years. He promoted to sergeant and was transferred to the CV station. When he advanced to lieutenant, he had the choice of staying at CV or transferring to the jail system.

A lieutenant he knew had just promoted to captain.

“He said he had a job for me in custody,” Slater said. “I had worked with him before.”

He felt this was a good move to round out his career since he had been at Santa Clarita and CV stations for most of his career.

“That’s unheard of in LASD, usually people move around,” he said.

He added he felt if a city contracts with LASD then he wants to stay and connect with city officials and the community. He still has friends who work in the City of Santa Clarita.

“I never wanted to feel like I was [just] passing through,” he said.

He worked in custody for a while but then wanted to come back to the CV Station.

“I like the community,” he said of the Crescenta Valley. “People treat you with respect.”

He came to the realization early on that law enforcement was a career he was interested in.

“I was working at Vons grocery store,” he said of his days before the academy. “I just realized that being confined within four walls was not me.”

He grew up in Ventura and had been working for Vons for about eight years.

“A couple of my friends started taking law enforcement-related classes and I [thought] I’ll give that a try,” Slater said.

He liked the classes and worked a couple of years as a civilian with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Dept. He decided this was the career he wanted so he applied to Ventura and Los Angeles County departments, and California Highway Patrol.

“Los Angeles County was the first one to hire,” he said.

His parents were a little worried about him working in LA County. He said he didn’t live a sheltered life but there was a definite difference between LA and Ventura counties.

“My first assignment was in the jails at Castaic; then, after three months of being there, they opened up Mira Loma Woman’s [detention center] in Lancaster,” he said. “I then transferred back to Castaic.”

His said his life experience really changed when he began working at the jails where he saw a lot of violence and gang members.

“I wasn’t used to seeing that and it took time to get used to it,” he said. “I wasn’t afraid to work the jails but you definitely had to pay attention and know your surroundings. It obviously prepared me for the streets.”

Soon he was working patrol. When he requested a location to work, he had to make six selections. Marina Del Rey was his sixth choice and the place he was sent. But it turned out to be a good station where he received a lot of experience. He first worked the Windsor Hills area and even worked the boats.

“I was the second man, the deckhand,” he said.

Many people live on their boats so he had to get used to responding to everything from domestic disputes to burglaries on the water.

“We dealt with stolen boats, speeding boats and domestic calls,” he said.

He worked other areas as well. One memory that stayed with him is a traffic stop he made in the area of Crenshaw Boulevard and Slauson Avenue in the unincorporated area of LA County.

“No traffic stop is routine,” Slater said. “I had stopped this car with two guys in it and, what was unusual at the time besides the car having paper plates, was there was a driver and the other guy was in the rear passenger seat. Nowadays that might not be uncommon because of [ride sharing].”

Slater said he had to stop the car head on, which is not the usual way of doing it but the car was coming out of an apartment complex.

“These guys just gave me that look and the hair on the back of my neck raised, so I stopped them and approached the car,” he said.

He spoke to the two men; they were acting like they had no idea why they were being stopped.

“And then I heard a [knock, knock] coming from the trunk,” Slater said.

He drew his gun and held the two guys.

“I pointed my gun at them and now I’m looking at these two guys and a potential person in the trunk. I backed up to my car to call for [backup],” he said.

Back then, in the 1980s, deputies did not have radios on their persons, only in their cars. He had his rifle out and was holding the two men as air support, Los Angeles police and LASD, showed up. Once they got the two suspects secured, Slater went to the trunk of the car.

“We opened the trunk and this guy … his eyes were [so wide] when he saw us. He was bound and gagged in the trunk of the car. It was a drug deal that had gone wrong and the two [suspects] were going to kill him. They had a map that they had circled where they were going to kill him and [drop the body]. They had a shovel and had already stabbed him a couple of times with an ice pick, so this guy was happy to see daylight,” he said.

Slater has a lot of memories from his 33 years in service, but decided this was the time to retire. Many in the community thought he may have been given a chance to interview for the recently open CV Sheriff’s Station captain’s position. However, that did not happen and at first he was a little unsettled by it but has come to terms with the decision. At a recent event, he had high praise for the new captain, Todd Deeds, and said he understands the process.

“We had a new sheriff [Villanueva] come in and put a process in place and I didn’t meet that criteria,” he said.

Slater has heard from community members who thanked him for his service.

“I am humbled by that,” he said.

Slater is looking forward to retirement.

“My wife and I have always loved our weekends and now we will just have longer weekends,” he said.

Lt. Slater’s last day at work is July 31.