In 1974, Deputy Donn Witt was assigned as a patrol deputy at the Vista station. He contracted hepatitis when his skin was pierced by a hypodermic needle in the pocket of a prisoner he was searching. Deputy Witt could have taken a medical retirement following his diagnosis; however, he would simply not hear of the thought. Deputy Witt remained on the job. He worked at his cluttered desk in the detective office at the Vista station until just twenty days before he succumbed to his disease on September 25, 1983.


Commonly characterized by co-workers as “a dedicated cop,” Deputy Witt established a reputation as one whose routine job performance far exceeded the requirements of his assignment. As a detective, he was the major driving force behind many major criminal investigations in Vista and San Marcos. He received a Distinguished Service Award in 1980 for his work in closing 150 burglaries and arresting eighteen suspects in a two-month period. In addition, Deputy Witt received five Exemplary Performance Reports and a plaque from the City of San Marcos for his service there.


Beyond his reputation as a top-notch cop, Deputy Witt was famous for his endless repertoire of bad jokes and his hero worship of John Wayne. He was also known for his unselfish caring for others. Said his wife, Raenel, “Donn could have retired, gone off and taken care of himself. But he wouldn’t have been happy. He enjoyed helping people. He thought if he didn’t care, no one would; it had to start with someone.”


In addition to Raenel, Deputy Witt is survived by two children, Tracy and Troy.