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Two retiring detectives get escort to work

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Two retiring detectives get escort to work

Motorcycle officers escort retiring Clei de Freitas through the fog Friday morning to his final day at the Manteca Police Department.

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

POSTED January 30, 2010 3:09 a.m.
Two of Manteca’s finest were honored Friday with a pair of police escorts to work on their last day on the job by four off-duty motorcycle officers.

Two of those officers were recently transferred back to street patrol because of the downturn in the economy and the troubled city budget.  It was their day off Friday and they brought their motorcycles out of mothballs to show their respect for their retiring fellow officers.

Clei de Freitas and Sam Gallego – both with some 30 years on the job – had their heads full of the memories of their service throughout those years to the Manteca community.  Gallego was escorted from his home via Highway 120 while de Freitas was brought up from the south on Highway 99 in the morning commute traffic.  When they got into town the patrol officers who were on duty and free of calls joined in the escort through the city.

As Gallego got to the station Friday morning, he remarked about the coincidence of his being escorted on the same day his military police son, Sam, was escorting an Army general who handpicked him to go to Afghanistan with him as his body guard.  The younger Sam made his dad proud in his recent police training as he scored in first place in all of the advanced police tactical challenges he completed finishing top of his class.

De Freitas served as the field training officers (FT0) for over half of the sergeants now in the Manteca department.  At 22 years old he entered the U.S. Air Force Reserves stationed in Fairfield at Travis Air Force Base for a short time.

He joined the Manteca Police force in the early ‘80s serving as a patrol officer and later as a motorcycle officer in the ‘90s.  De Freitas became a school resource officer in 1997 continuing in the position for 11 years – mostly at Manteca High School.  From there he was assigned to the Street Crimes Unit as a detective some two years ago.

De Freitas displayed a unique ability to deal with troubled teenagers at the high school level with many of them willing to discuss their problems with him and to let him know when situations arose that were possibly a danger to other students.  

Gallego started as Stockton patrol officer
Gallego first worked on patrol for the Stockton Police Department coming to Manteca in the summer of 1980.  He chuckled when he remembered that he took his days off from Stockton Police only to come back from a short vacation wearing a Manteca uniform.

Now serving as a detective, Gallego said he will “miss the guys” he has worked with for so long as well as community service officer Cheryl Jones who was with him in Stockton.  He said it was Cheryl who was the head of the report writing unit in Stockton who taught him how to properly pen his reports.

He also mentioned recently retired Capt. Greg Lassell who was in his class at East Union High School along with Clei de Freitas, Rex Osborn, and Steve Harris.  

“We all started here at the same time,” he said, noting that the current police Chief, Dave Bricker, was also on the force when he signed on.

One case that Gallego remembers vividly involved a convicted carjacker who had just gotten out of jail in Sacramento and came to Manteca to steal another car.  The man was armed and led officers westbound down the wrong side of the freeway and up to the Altamont – doubling back into Manteca where he finally crashed the car into a shopping center store.

Gallego said he had the lead in the pursuit that involved Sheriff’s and CHP units.  At the crash scene, while other officers were training their guns on the car, he assumed the suspect would probably run through the store and out the back door.  Grinning, Gallego remembered he drove around the back and found he was right in his thinking.   He was there with his gun drawn as the wrong-way convict fled out the door and right into him.

De Freitas is going to take a three-month break before he comes back to the department as a reserve officer under reserve Captain Rex Osborn.  Gallego is planning to do much the same thing and will also be working on a part-time basis as a police reserve.  The reserve officers in Manteca are paid only for their court time, not for the hours they put in serving the community.
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