NEWHALL – Steve Bernard misses the beat, but loves the neighborhood. The new commander of the California Highway Patrol’s Newhall office was settling in this week to his new digs, in an office very familiar to the 27-year lawman who had been stationed there twice before. “I remember working the 14,” he reminisced of days in the late 1970s patrolling the Antelope Valley (14) Freeway. “It was just you and your black-and-white. In the old days, this was wilderness area. People in the valley talked about the cowboys and cowgirls and the great outdoors up here, but now, this is the place to be.” Although the Newhall beat has changed significantly in the last 20 years, Bernard is ready to deal with the growth and responsibility. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card “Development impacts response times, and the population – and number of drivers – is booming,” he said. “The freeways are a mess already, but my goal is to make sure we work with the surrounding agencies to plan adequately. We have to have a unified force to make sure everything works smoothly. Staffing for each office is set by the Legislature, and the impending arrival of communities such as Newhall Ranch near the Ventura County line and Centennial near Gorman doesn’t mean Bernard will get more officers. Currently, his command includes 79 uniformed officers and nine civilian staffers. The office is responsible for law enforcement from the Ventura County line to the west, the Ronald Reagan (118) Freeway to the south, Red Rover Mine Road to the east and a combination of the Kern County line and Highway 138 at 220th Avenue to the north. In the Santa Clarita city limits, the CHP also works pockets of unincorporated areas. Part of his command means working with state budgets – and its limitations as well. “The Highway Patrol is in good shape. The governor and Legislature have recognized the job we’re doing and we’ve gained some funding,” he said. “The bad news is inflation and taking on more responsibility and more programs, such as national security concerns we didn’t have before 9-11. We also have a lot of outreach programs such as the car seats, Sober Graduation and Every 15 Minutes.” Bernard is a firm believer that proactive programs help everyone in the long run and has seen statistics bear out that belief. “When we are understaffed, we become reactive and all we can do is response to calls for service,” he said. “If we are working with adequate staff and doing outreach programs, those calls go down because we’re out there in the community.” Bernard started out as a patrol officer in Glendale and worked his way up the ranks with assignments at division headquarters near downtown L.A., the West Valley and Hayward offices, stopping in Newhall for two tours of duty. Last year he went to the Ukiah office in Mendocino County to succeed Capt. Eileen Conley, who was being transferred to run the Newhall office. Through all the moves, Bernard maintained a home in Valencia. He gives credit to his wife, Leilani, for her patience with all the transfers. “I promised her if Newhall ever opened up again, I’d apply for it,” he said. When Conley was named assistant chief of the agency’s Southern Division last fall, he saw his opportunity. And now, he’s promised both the boss at home and the bosses in Sacramento, he’s home to stay. Carol Rock, (661) 257-5252 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!