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They deal with the bad guys

Law Day event honors officers who do their jobs well

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They deal with the bad guys

Manteca Rotary’s Law Day honorees are from left, Ranch Johnson, Manteca Police; Doug Carraway, CHP; Jamie Hood, SJ County probation; Lawrence Gardiman, SJ Sheriff’s detective; and Albert Garcia, DA...

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED May 11, 2013 2:20 a.m.

Odds are you’ve never met Albert Garcia.

And that’s probably a good thing.

It’s not because of his personality or outlook on life. He’s a nice guy.

The reason you should be happy you may not know him is the fact Garcia is an effective and diligent criminal investigator with the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s office.

Garcia has been working as part of the DA’s IMPACT unit - the Interagency Major Public Assistance Crime Team - since July 2010. Basically he handles welfare fraud and such. Even though he’s the most prolific investigator in the unit referring $96,135 in fraud losses for criminal prosecution during the past 14 months, you’re not going to see him on the nightly news. That’s because Garcia - who started his law enforcement career over 30 years ago with the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s office - handles what one might call pedestrian crime. You won’t see a Showtime series about what he does nor even a reality show. It’s basic unglamorous investigative work.

But without men and women like Garcia criminals would never get prosecuted.

The DA investigator is just one of five members of various branches of law enforcement that serve and protect Manteca-Lathrop-Ripon who were honored at the recent 2013 Don I. Asher Memorial Officer of the Year Award during the Manteca Noon Rotary Club’s Law Day observance.

Among the honorees was Detective Ranch Johnson of Manteca Police’s gang suppression unit.

Ask him why he became an officer 12 years ago, and Ranch will tell you it is a better living than mowing grass for $6 an hour.

But don’t let his slightly flippant answer fool you. Ranch is a dedicated officer who takes serving and protecting the public seriously.

And there is little doubt dealing with crabgrass and working up a sweat in the summer heat on a lawn crew can be much more pleasant - and safer - than dealing with the small percentage of folks who do the most crime in Manteca. Even though he may deal with the dregs of society much of his time working, he never forgets to stay even tempered and remember his chosen career is to serve people.

He has demonstrated that repeatedly as a patrol officer, a K9 officer, and now as a member of Manteca’s gang enforcement unit.

Your safety is his primary concern

As for Doug Carraway, count your blessings if he pulls you over. It’s his job to keep the traveling public - including you - safe. You might recognize him if you live in Manteca. Carraway is a neighbor and he’s also a California Highway Patrol officer.

He’s been a CHP officer since 1991 starting in West Los Angeles before transferring to Tracy in 1998 for a 10-year stint. Then in 2008 he transferred to Stockton and has spent the past five years working primarily roads in the Manteca area.

Carraway is known for taking the time to patiently educate motorists he observes driving dangerously and illegally. His demeanor has earned him respect even from those he has ticketed. Even more important, being a CHP officer means he often arrives on rural accident scenes significantly ahead of other help. A recent collision on Highway 4 in a remote stretch of the Delta underscores his calm and professional demeanor. As the only emergency responder on scene for a fairly good time, he was able to use has assertive personality and calm demeanor to stabilize a chaotic scene on a narrow roadway with water on both sides. At the same time he set up effective traffic controls and established crash scene security without any assistance.

You’re likely not to encounter Jamie James during her workday unless you have been convicted. That’s because she’s a senior probation officer with the San Joaquin County probation Department. Probation officers are arguably the most overburdened officers in law enforcement with caseloads that would break the back of an elephant.

Good probation officers are part law enforcement officer and part social worker. When officers like James do their job effectively, recidivism drops.

Gardiman makes arrests despite challenging odds

San Joaquin Sheriff’s Detective  Lawrence Gardiman started his career as a CHP officer in Bakersfield before being hired two years later to be a deputy in 1989. Since 1999 he’s been working in investigations and has been assigned to the homicide unit since 2001.

Gardiman is the detective who got indictments against two suspects responsible for a murder of a member of an outlaw motorcycle gang who was killed in an industrial park just outside of Manteca in August 2011. The alleged perpetuators were members of a rival outlaw gang.

It wasn’t an easy case to crack. The surviving victim refused to cooperate. That forced Gardiman to use “old school” investigative skills to track down evidence, vehicles and eventually two suspects. His relentless pursuit of justice while facing hostile, anti-law enforcement and violent individuals who vow their loyalty and lives to the patch they wear on their backs had him chasing leads from Redding to Fresno to Oakland.

In 2012, six Sureno gang members who had been terrorizing the streets of Stockton for several months were arrested and eventually convicted. They are now in prison for committing a major crime spree including two homicides, torture, mayhem, and kidnapping. It was all the result of Gardiman leaving no stone unturned. It also required him to get the gang members to turn on each other to gain a successful prosecution.

Men and women like Garcia, Ranch, Carraway, Hood and Gardiman are why order and not chaos is the standard. They are the ones that work to enforce the laws that are in place to not just keep us safe but to safeguard our rights.

Without the legal system - and society itself - would fall apart.

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