A Conversation with Sergeant John Hajducko, new COAST LEAD from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office
What is your role within the VCSO?
I am currently assigned as the sergeant in charge of the Pharmaceutical Crimes Unit of the VCSO Narcotics Bureau. I supervise a team of detectives who are primarily tasked with the investigation of sales, possession and transportation of illegal or counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs and fentanyl. Our unit is also tasked with the investigation of all accidental drug overdoses that occur within the Sheriff’s Office jurisdiction.
How long have you been doing this work?
I have been assigned to my current role since May 2021, however I previously worked in a Narcotics as a detective from 2014 to 2018. I have been with Sheriff’s Office for 26 years. In addition to Narcotics, I have held assignments in the Jail, Patrol, Field Training Officer, Crime Suppression Unit, the Sheriff’s Academy and SWAT.
What do you believe the most meaningful work of the COAST Grant has been to date?
I believe its education and really working to pull the opioid crisis out of the dark for the community. Unfortunately, not a lot of people truly know, or even want to know, the devastating effects that drugs have on the community. Many times the feeling is that “if it doesn’t affect me, than why should I care.” But the fact of that matter is that crisis affects us all whether directly or indirectly, and it’s not going away any time soon. From what I have seen so far, I think the COAST grant does a good job of bringing that “invisible” information from the drug overdoses and law enforcement activity behind the scenes, and converts it into searchable data and public education so that the entire community can realize just what a huge problem it is and that it does affect them in some way.
What do you think residents of Ventura County need to know about the opioid crisis in our community?
I think the most important thing to realize is there is not a one dimensional approach that is going to solve this issue. Law enforcement cannot arrest this problem away; the medical field doesn’t have any medicine that is going to cure this; behavioral health cannot change everyone’s thought process and understanding to turn everyone away from drugs; and families don’t always have the support structure and communication skills in place in order to help their loved ones through an issue like this. The only way to get through this crisis is a community approach where all these entities cooperate and mutually support each other in their missions.
Do you want to share anything personal about yourself?
My wife is a high school math teacher and we have a blended family of 6 kids, with the oldest at 20 and the youngest at 5! Prior to joining the Sheriff’s Office, I served in the US Marine Corps. I’m an avid football and hockey fan, and my hobbies include camping, hiking, and motorcycle riding.