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Retired Lathrop chief honored

Parting words to city leaders: Keep the next election clean

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Retired Lathrop chief honored

Retired Lathrop Police Chief Dolores Delgado and Sheriff's Captain Eric Holman during an informal gathering to honor Delgado at City Hall. Holman was recently appointed as Lathrop's top cop.

ROSE ALBANO RISSO/The Bulletin


POSTED February 2, 2010 1:50 a.m.
LATHROP – Recently retired Lathrop Police Chief Dolores Delgado turned down the $3,500 catered reception that the City Council wanted to host for her retirement.

But her dozens of supporters and admirers did it anyway – sans the catered food – in the City Hall lobby. Not even a single bottle of water was in sight when the informal gathering took place during a 10-minute break in the council meeting Monday gaveled by Mayor Kristy Sayles right after presenting Delgado with a recognition plaque for her seven years of service in the community, five of which as the city police chief.

Former councilman Steve Dresser thanked Delgado for introducing community policing to Lathrop, a concept that has proven itself to be very successful in the community, he said.

Several representatives of the youth in the city came to thank her for the many ways she changed their lives for the better.

“You helped us in so many ways,” including working with the youth groups in their fund-raising efforts during Lathrop Days at the Dell’Osso Farms, Miss Lathrop Haniyeh Semsar said.

She and Miss Teen Holiday Faire Jenna Howard and Miss Teen Harvest Festival Jessica Walls attended the council meeting in their official attires as official representatives of the city complete with their sashes and tiaras.

Sierra High School graduates and cousins Mike and Esteban Torres, both members of The Mike Torres Band which is a family musical group considered by many to be Lathrop’s best, expressed their appreciation to the just-retired chief in song. They serenaded Delgado with some of her favorite Spanish melodies with Mike Torres III playing the guitar, bursting into song after the plaque presentation and during the gathering in the lobby.

Members of the Senior Center relayed their thanks to Delgado, with interim Parks and Recreation director Katie Lemons as their mouthpiece, for supporting their senior activities and projects including helping them obtain a television set when they needed one.

Sheriff’s Captain Eric Holman, who was recently appointed as Lathrop’s top cop, told the gathered guests as he stood next to Delgado that “part of my success is because of this person right here.” He went on to thank Delgado “for mentoring me and for supporting me.”

Referring to someone’s comment that he has big shoes to fill as police chief, he commented lightheartedly that “my shoes are bigger (than Delgado’s) but I still have bigger shoes to fill.”

But one of the most touching words of appreciation for Delgado came from Jermain Randolph, 18, and his grandmother LaTonya Randolph. Randolph said he was inspired by Delgado during the years he was part of the Lathrop Junior Police Academy to pursue a career in law enforcement. He is currently pursuing his studies in Criminal Justice at ITT Tech in Lathrop, with plans to go on to obtain bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

“He helped the chief (Delgado) teach the (Junior Police Academy) classes; they called him ‘colonel,’” his grandmother said.

Randolph said one of the most important lessons learned from the former police chief was “to be what I wanted to be.”

He added, “She’s a nice person; she’s very easy to work with.”

One of the most heartfelt plaudits received by Delgado came from Mayor Kristy Sayles. With tears in her eyes and her voice quivering with emotion, the mayor recalled the time she was put to task by some of her critics and detractors in the community for her lack of a high school diploma or a GED when she was elected.

“I was very embarrassed because of my lack of education,” a tearful Sayles said as she went on to thank Delgado for “pushing me” and giving her the encouragement to continue with her studies.

“I’m almost done with my AA,” said Sayles who is attending San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton.

“Without you, I would never have stepped up and told the world” about her lack of formal higher education, Sayles said.

Representing Sheriff Steve Moore and the Sheriff’s Department at Delgado’s fete was Assistant Sheriff Ruben Orozco.

In her official statement to the City Council, Delgado commented on the council-planned dinner in her honor. She said that while she was deeply appreciative of the council’s intent, “In light of the current economic environment where people in the city are struggling to feed their families and losing their jobs, including members of my own Lathrop Police Services staff, I consider the expenditure necessary for such a dinner to be a luxury, and a self-congratulatory gesture at the expense of those who can least afford it.”

She then requested that the mayor and city council consider re-allocating the dinner funds to “quality of life programs and services that will benefit the community I have come to love so dearly….”

In her parting message, she did not mince her words as she touched on the mudslinging that characterized the last elections, but without naming names.

“If God granted me one wish right now – one blessing right now – I would ask God that this year’s election in Lathrop will not bring more of the same hate and hateful attacks on or within the community, that it will not force people to choose sides out of fear and intimidation, and the same for City Hall employees, but that the election brings with it the integrity, leadership, clear vision, and open policy-making to pour a new foundation for the community,” Delgado said as she delivered her message from the podium.

“It has been heart-wrenching for me to see and experience the devastation our community has suffered as a result of a bitter and hateful election. I saw good men and women at heart swept into an ugly war of differences of opinion and who participated in less-than flattering behavior, which in turn ruined old lifelong and family friendships, ruined personal and professional reputations of good men and women working in City Hall, destroy partnerships, burned bridges and pitted brother against brother and sister against sister, all for what I still believe was petty and insignificant politics,” Delgado concluded.

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