City Honors Retired SDPD Official, Professor

Jim Collins, Allen Gin Receive Honor From San Diego City Council

A retired San Diego police official who investigated some notorious cases and a professor who chronicles regional economic trends were honored Tuesday by the City Council.

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Jim Collins, who received a standing ovation from the council members and audience, retired recently as an SDPD captain after 41 years with the force.

"When I started off with the San Diego Police Department back in 1970, I had no idea I would set a record for being here longer than anyone else," Collins said. "Some of my colleagues asked me why, and it was just that I enjoyed the job."

Collins' outwardly calm demeanor was familiar to San Diegans as he provided details of some of the city's most notorious crimes.

He was the lead detective in the Danielle Van Dam child murder case in 2002 and later that year investigated the case of 2-year-old Jahi Turner, who disappeared from a city park and was never seen again. David Westerfield was convicted of murdering Danielle, but investigators were unable to make a criminal case against the man who had been watching Jahi.

In the 1970s, Collins arrested Robert Alton Harris for a bank robbery in Mira Mesa, not knowing at the time that the suspect had killed two boys, including the son of his police partner. Harris was executed in 1992.

Collins rose through the ranks to leadership roles in homicide, robbery, internal affairs, the police academy, gang suppression and economic crimes divisions.

SDPD Chief William Lansdowne said people like to leave a legacy, "but Jim is someone who actually did that."

The other honoree, University of San Diego professor Alan Gin, has been issuing his monthly Index of Leading Economic Indicators for San Diego County for 20 years. The index tracks changes in different sectors of the regional economy.

Councilwoman Lorie Zapf called Gin the "go-to guy" on economics.

"I'm pleased that the index has become accepted, that it's a useful tool for people in government, in the business community and nonprofits," Gin said. "I don't know if I'll make another 20 years, but we'll see how long I can keep this going."

Gin, on the USD faculty since 1988, has been a primary source for the local media on economic stories. He was voted "Professor of the Year" by graduate business students at USD in the 2002-03 academic year.

Previous Coverage: -- Retiring SDPD Captain Reflects On Career

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