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The STARS when it comes to helping assist deputies

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The STARS when it comes to helping assist deputies

Victor Gully looks over some of the things he’s saved from his work as volunteer with the San Joaquin County Sherriff’s Department STARS – the Sherriff’s Team of Active Retired Seniors.


POSTED January 28, 2012 1:34 a.m.

Just because he was retired didn’t mean that Victor Gully wanted to sit at home all day.

Six months after saying goodbye to the construction world – he spent decades commuting to the Bay Area as a member of the Laborers Union – the Manteca native finally decided that it was time to find something that could occupy his time.

So at the behest of Sam and Norma Jean Bologna – friends who were already co-captains of an area as members of the San Joaquin County Sherriff’s Department STARS team – he bought a uniform, received his training and started spending time giving back.

He had no idea that it was something that would soon get into his blood and become a major part of his retired life.

“At the time it was something to do with people that I knew,” Gully said. “I ended up getting to meet a lot of good people and I had a lot of fun. It was different than what I thought it was going to be, and that’s probably why I really got into it.”

While the unit was conceived by former Sherriff Baxter Dunn and approved by the Board of Supervisors, everything from the uniforms to the patrol vehicles used are paid for independently from the Sherriff’s Department budget. Nothing, Gully said, was fronted by taxpayers.

And that meant a lot of fundraising.

From shrimp dinners to time spent working at the Stockton Asparagus Festival, funding was constantly a focal point for the independent group that even paid for the maintenance of the vehicles themselves.

“The only thing that we didn’t have to pay for was fuel, and there were a lot of fundraisers and fun things that we would go out and do together,” Gully said. “Getting that kind of support from the public was great, and it was fun to be out there doing it.”

Gully started out on his patrols with friend Al Gallego until he finally had enough time to go on his own – making periodic checks of schools along his route and homes of people that were on vacation. Occasionally he would wait outside of the house of a family that had gone to a funeral to make sure that it was safe while they were gone.

But it wasn’t until a new task force was started that Gully really found what he loved doing.

Because of an uptick in crime occurring on ranches and farms, the Sherriff’s Department started the Rural Crime Task Force and began a program where every piece of farm equipment would be stamped and registered to owners for easy identification.

For nearly three years he traversed the valley stamping thousands of swathers, combines and tractors – getting to meet people and learn more about the county and those that live in it.

“I knew a lot of them, but it was fun to meet new people out there as well. That was the most fun that I had when I was really active with the STARS,” Gully said. “I enjoy volunteering – I think it’s something that more people should do. Friends and relatives look at me like I’m crazy. They say, ‘you do all of this and you don’t get paid?’”

— Jason Campbell
staff reporter

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