By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Bricker: From cadet to chief
Chamber honoring him with lifetime achievement award
Manteca Police Chief Dave Bricker in his office. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Chamber honors Chief Bricker

Manteca Police Chief Dave Bricker is receiving the lifetime achievement award at the Manteca Chamber of Commerce annual awards dinner set for Friday, June 17, at Chez Shari at the Manteca Golf Course.

Daryll Quaresma is being installed as the president. Top businesses and individuals will be honored during the dinner that also includes installation ceremonies of other officers plus a salute to outgoing president Jeff Zellner.

Tickets are $40 apiece and are available at the chamber office on West Yosemite Avenue just east of Walnut Avenue or by calling 823-6121. The deadline for reservation is Tuesday, June 14, at 3 p.m.

The no-host bar is at 6 p.m. followed by the buffet dinner at 7 p.m. and the installation as well as awards ceremonies at 8 p.m.

His hands were shaking.

Dave Bricker had just completed three days of field training. He was ready to start his first solo shift as a Manteca Police officer.

He had three years under his belt previously as a San Joaquin County Sheriff deputy but worked primarily in the courts and jail. When he did venture on to patrol it was as a fill in. He always rode shotgun with a partner who directed through what had to be done.

This was different, though.

Within an hour after leaving briefing that day in 1979, he made a traffic stop that led to his first solo arrest of a man wanted on warrants.

“I got paid $880 a month back then,” Bricker recalled. “I’d been happy to have gotten half of that. It was a dream come true for me to be a cop in my hometown.”

Now some 32 years later Bricker is receiving a lifetime achievement award for his law enforcement and community service from the Manteca Chamber of Commerce during their annual awards and installation dinner on Friday, June 17.

Bricker officially retired on Dec. 31. He now works on contract and is paid for 20 hours of work. He had maxed out on his retirement benefits and there was a pending change in health benefits that was going into effect in 2011. He gets paid a set amount with the city not having to pay any type of benefits. The savings is almost the entire compensation cost of one police officer which meant had he stepped away the department would have to cut one officer.

It is an arrangement Bricker noted can’t be a long-term thing since previous cuts reduced the department’s command structure back to barebones in order to keep more officers on the streets.  Bricker, though, expects to be on the job at least through the end of the year.

Back in 1979 with 36,000 residents, Manteca had two officers on patrol at night with North Street serving as the beat boundaries.

The watch commander Roger Sorrick would take his business cards and place them on the front and back door of every business in town. Officers were expected to check every door and retrieve the cards.

“You had to learn to handle incidents on your own as your back-up could be tied up on another call or clear across town,” Bricker said.

That required developing respect and treating people accordingly.

He remembers his first major fight he was called to break up at what was then Fred’s Beer House on East Alameda Street

He was significantly outnumbered and had waded into the middle of the fracas to stop it. As it looked like several of the combatants were going to turn on him, he heard a voice from behind him say,’ Dave, don’t worry. I have your back.”

It was someone he had dealt with a week earlier who - although the circumstances weren’t pleasant - he treated with respect.

He’s never had to fire his weapon in the line of duty nor has he ever gotten seriously hurt breaking up fights.

“If it’s one thing I know how to do and that’s fight,” Bricker said as he gestured toward a wall of plaques for winning various martial arts competitions.

Times were different 32 years ago. Bricker noted officers had the luxury to know almost everyone in town.  Also crime was less intense.

“Manteca was a dusty, valley dairy town,” Bricker said. “We had crime but it was different.”

At one point he went 17 days on the job without getting a call from dispatch. Today, dispatchers send officers to calls about every 17 minutes.

Bricker was 2 years old when his parents Henry and Rachel moved from Los Angeles when his father was transferred to Best Fertilizer’s Lathrop plant that is now owned by Simplot.

“I’ve always wanted to be a police officer since I can remember,” Bricker said.

Bricker joined the Manteca Police cadets - the forerunner of the Police Explorers - when he was a sophomore at East Union High.

His first ride along was with a new officer by the name of Willie Weatherford.

He still remembers that day not for what happened during the patrol shift but what happened when Weatherford took his dinner break.

Weatherford, who later became police chief and eventually was elected mayor after his retirement, took Bricker home with him where the young officer’s wife had prepared dinner for her husband and their children as well as Bricker.

The gesture made him realize that police officers were more than just guys in uniforms enforcing the law. They were also family men.

Bricker also was the first Manteca Police Explorer to go on to become an officer in the department.

Bricker served three years in the Air Force right after graduating from East Union High.

Early in his career he convinced then Police Chief Leonard Taylor that Manteca needed a SWAT team after he attended SWAT training on his own dime and time.

From 1986 to 1989 he left the department to pursue a career of teaching law enforcement at colleges as well as everything from K-9 and firearms classes to SWAT instruction for other police departments.

He came back to the Manteca force in 1989 when the city’s new police chief - Weatherford - dropped by Modesto Junior College - and wanted to hire him.

“I really missed police work,” Bricker recalled.

When Bricker joined the department in 1979 there were 36 officers serving a city of 36,000. Today there are 58 sworn officers serving a city of 69,000. Three years ago, the department had been authorized 83 officers.

Bricker has served as president of the Sunrise Kiwanis and Manteca Kiwanis, Give Every Child a Chance as well as the Manteca-Lathrop Boys & Girls Club. He has also served on the boards of other organizations such as the South County Crisis Center and South County Crime Stoppers.