This month’s featured individual is a man that they call “Baja Bob.” Robert Torbett grew up in Atchison Kansas as the youngest of six and the only male of seven siblings. Both his father and grandfather worked on the railroads. Bob lost his father at a young age, so his mom moved the family to San Diego to find work.
Upon graduating from Hoover High School, Bob decided to enlist in the Army and served during the US occupation in Japan. He remained in the Army for a couple of years, before completing his service. Following his honorable discharge, he helped to build racing yachts for a while, but decided that he wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement.
Bob had a long and successful career with the San Diego Sheriff’s department and wore a variety of hats. He served as the Information Liaison for San Diego. He later worked as a Gold Shield Homicide Detective Sergeant. Bob helped to found and edit the Silver Star magazine. He also established the Retired Sherriff’s Deputy Association and often assisted with fundraisers for the community.
Throughout the years, Bob saw that after law enforcement equipment was used for some time or replaced with updated items, it often would simply be discarded. He also realized that many police officials across the border in Tijuana were often responsible for purchasing their own uniforms and some of their own equipment. Bob saw that this situation opened up the possibility of improving San Diego’s relationship with Tijuana and decided to act. He helped make arrangements for San Diego law enforcement equipment to be donated to Tijuana’s officers. In this manner, there would be a spirit of cooperation between the two cities along the border, and Tijuana police could have much needed equipment to aid them in enforcing the law. The program was implemented and was extremely successful. It was because of this program that Bob was endeared to Tijuana police and known as “Baja Bob.”
After retiring from the Sheriff’s department in 1978, Bob decided to continue working and served as the Del Mar Racetrack head of security. He continued on working at Del Mar for 10 years before deciding to branch out to open his own security firm to work as a private investigator and bodyguard. Through this company, he had the opportunity to work with several prominent officials and use the skills that he learned over the years with the military, Sheriff’s Department, and at Del Mar.
Even though Bob was constantly working, he made sure to have fun as well. He enjoyed playing softball on the Sherriff’s Department team. He loved to take time to head out with his wife and children at a cabin they had in Tecate, California. They’d spend time together in an open area of land and enjoyed fishing, hunting, cooking what they caught and barbequing together. The family would often drive together down the Baja coastline as well. Bob was rarely at home and would take any free days to visit his friends and catch up. He has certainly had a fun and adventure filled life. We admire Bob’s industrious nature and can absolutely still see the diligent and determined Sheriff in him.
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