Changing of the guard at the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Station – Saying adieu to the captain

Aug 26, 2023 | Front Page

Capt. Don Lupear is retiring as of Aug. 25, 2023. (File photo)

By Mary-Justine Lanyon

When Don Lupear was a boy growing up in Running Springs, his father was the resident deputy with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

You might feel safe in thinking that was the impetus for Lupear to himself join the sheriff’s department…but you would be wrong.

After attending Charles Hoffman Elementary School, Mary Putnam Henck Intermediate School and graduating from Rim of the World High School, Lupear continued pursuing his first love: ski racing. He had raced all through high school and for three years after graduation he was a ski coach and taught skiing at Mammoth.

“Then I decided I didn’t know if that was the life for me and I joined the Army,” Lupear said. That was 1985. Because he wanted to jump out of planes, he became an Army Ranger, going to jump school at Fort Benning, Ga., and then becoming stationed at Fort Lewis, Wash.

In 1987 Lupear was sent to Germany, where he was stationed in West Berlin. After the Libyans blew up the disco in Berlin, he volunteered to be part of the group that protected American children going to school by escorting them in Jeeps armed with machine guns.

“We did some urban guerilla combat training,” Lupear said, noting they had a mock city where they trained in urban warfare.

The happy note about his time in Berlin is that he met the woman who became his wife, Gity, who had emigrated to Germany from Iran. Before he could marry her, however, Lupear had to return to the U.S. and leave the Army. That he did, then returning to Germany and marrying her.

In March 1989 the couple returned to the U.S., moving to the mountain where Lupear worked for his father’s construction company (his father had retired by then). At the same time, he coached the Rim High ski team and worked part-time at Snow Valley, teaching ski instructors.

“I had wanted to be a cop in the Army,” he said, “but my Dad talked me out of it.” Law enforcement finally caught up with the younger Lupear in 1992 when the economy got bad and the construction business slowed down.

“I decided to go to the sheriff’s academy,” Lupear said. After graduating in 1993, he was first sent to jail at the Glen Helen Rehabilitation Center. It was at that point that the Lupears moved to the valley.

Lupear’s next professional move was to patrol in the Morongo basin. After two years, he was transferred to the Fontana station, where he was out on patrol for just over three years.

When he was promoted to detective, Lupear was sent up to the Twin Peaks station for 13 months. After that, he worked as a homicide detective for a little over 3-1/2 years. With his promotion to sergeant came a move back to Glen Helen. Then, in 2007, he was stationed in Highland; in 2009 it was back to homicide.

In June 2012, Lupear was promoted to lieutenant and moved back to Glen Helen again. In 2014, he was assigned to narcotics for just six months, after which he went back to homicide, where he spent 3-1/2 years. Finally, after a brief stint in Big Bear, Lupear came back to Twin Peaks as the commander. He promoted to captain in January 2020.

His time in homicide, Lupear said, “was the hardest work I have ever done but it was exciting.”

He assisted the San Bernardino Police Department with the investigation into the Dec. 2, 2015, terrorist attack. And he was involved with a lot of cases with the San Bernardino Police Department in what they called Operation No Bounds.

“Our homicide and gang guys assisted,” Lupear said. “We ended up clearing 12 murders in San Bernardino City and in the county – all gang related. The last total was up to 28 arrests out of that for homicides and other gang-related crimes.”

He noted they called it Operation No Bounds because it stretched from Phoenix to Las Vegas to Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles and into San Diego. “We had guys everywhere,” he said.

Over the course of his career, Lupear said, he was involved in or worked more than 500 homicide cases and up to 250 officer-involved shootings.

He is thankful there have been no fires on the mountain since he has been commander. He was immediately faced with the pandemic. “We got some extra personnel from the Court Services division as they were shut down,” he said. He sent those folks to Stater Bros and Goodwin’s to monitor the seniors going in for their special shopping times. “We wanted to make sure there were no problems – and there weren’t. Everyone was nice.” They also did checks on businesses that were closed. “It was our responsibility to make sure no one messed with their stuff.”

The snowstorms this past winter presented their own challenges. “That was quite an effort,” he said. Lupear was part of the incident command team.

As of Aug. 25, Lupear’s career with the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department is coming to an end with his retirement.

What is next for him? He and Gity plan to do some traveling and Lupear plans to do a lot of skiing. He has been approached about doing some consulting work, which he may consider.

One thing is certain: He will be staying in California. The Lupears’ son, an attorney, lives in San Diego so they may move closer to him.

All of us at the Alpine Mountaineer thank Capt. Lupear for his service to the community and wish him all the best on his next adventure.



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