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IN PURSUIT OF READING

Manteca police chief visits Sequoia 3rd graders

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IN PURSUIT OF READING

It might not have officially been a scheduled “Reading Across America” day, but on Tuesday Manteca Police Chief Nick Obligacion showed the third-graders at Sequoia Elementary School that he’s a man...

JASON CAMPBELL/The Bulletin


POSTED March 6, 2013 1:14 a.m.

Nick Obligacion likes doughnuts.

At least that’s what he told the students of Risa Hernandez’ third grade class at Sequoia Elementary Tuesday morning when he stopped by.

Donning his blue uniform and a light duty belt, Obligacion – Manteca’s police chief – fielded a handful of prepared questions for the anxious class before calling on students that wanted to know things that weren’t on the sheet.

And whether he enjoyed the stereotypical snack was one of the things that were thrown out into the ring.

“A lot of the newer guys like bagels,” he said with a laugh. “I’m an old-school guy – I like doughnuts”

Last week third-graders got used to having guests stop in and read stories as part of the annual “Read Across America” event that coincides with the birthday of Theodore Seuss Geisel – more commonly known as Dr. Seuss.

So students like Jose Sebastian were thrilled when they found out they were getting another visitor on Tuesday morning. They let out a collective gasp when Manteca’s top cop walked through the door just before 10:30 a.m.

Sebastian had never seen Manteca Police Chief Nick Obligacion before, but it didn’t take him long to declare that he was the best visitor that the class had over the course of the last week. He listened attentively to the questions that the 21-year veteran of the job answered willingly.

“I like how he told us about his training and how to work the handcuffs,” Sebastian said – shifting back-and-forth in his chair. “It’s fun to get to see the police chief and listen to him and what he does for his job.”

The feeling was mutual.

Ever since taking over the reins of the department less than a year ago, Obligacion – who started in Manteca as a patrol officer and worked his way up through the ranks – has been active in the community and vocal about what he believes will erase the ills of society.

It all starts with the children.

While catching bad guys is a cat and mouse game that often leads to the same criminals filtering back out onto the street, Obligacion believes that future generations hold the keys reducing crime. He told the attentive students that being good is “contagious” and will hopefully help others make the right choices along the way.

“You are our future, and don’t you want to be the ones that do the right thing and help guide others?” he asked. “All of us make a difference in this.”

Even though he managed to squeeze in a reading of Peggy Rathmann’s “Officer Buckle and Gloria” in two separate third-grade classes, the majority of his time was spent answering questions about his training, his past assignments, and where he likes to take his breaks – another lead-in to the doughnut question.

“I like coffee, so where do you think I go?” he asked. “Starbucks. I love going to Starbucks.”

The visit helped third-grade teachers fulfill one of the gold seal lessons mandated annually and served as a perfect tie-in, Hernandez said, to the “Read Across America” event.

Even the book Obligacion read – which chronicled the life of a canine handler and his dog – was on point. His first assignment with the Manteca Police Department was a canine officer where he worked for six years with his Belgian Malinois, “Berry.”

But just giving the kids the chance to get to know an administrator in law enforcement, Hernandez said, was a big plus.

“It helps them feel appreciative and it shows them that he’s friendly and approachable and willing to talk with them,” she said. “He respects them and they respect him and it’s great to see that. He’s a great role model.”

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