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Schools officer serves as road guard for first graders
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Manteca Police Schools Resource Officer Steve Harris serves as a traffic break for New Haven School first graders who were walking to the nearby fire station on Lathrop Road on Wednesday. - photo by GLENN KAHL

Within the hour of seeing the two dogs saved, Manteca Police officer Steve Harris was protecting New Haven School first graders from noon hour traffic on Austin Road by using his black and white patrol car as a road guard while the kids walked to a nearby fire station down Austin Road.

Harris met the students at the front of the school where he stopped traffic while they walked across the roadway and headed single file south with their teachers toward the Lathrop-Manteca Fire Station 33 a short distance away.  His car, partially in the roadway with rear red and yellow lights flashing, alerted oncoming traffic to the presence of Beth Saldate’s class of 24 6 year olds.

Harris and Sam Gallego both share keeping an eye on the school district’s many elementary schools during the week.  Retired with over 30 years of service, both are now out of retirement and have been welcomed with open arms by the children and the staff members alike.  Harris said Wednesday that his job is so different now with the kids anxious and happy to see them both when they are on campus and in the cafeterias.  It’s all about happy times usually seen more by firefighters than by police officers.

It was just a few days ago that Officer Gallego had the privilege of delivering a police bear to Nikka Perez, 11,  who had been struck in a crosswalk by a hit and run driver on Yosemite Avenue some four weeks ago.

“It’s all about smiles and waves,” Harris said.  “It’s really fun to come to work now.”