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Chit-chatting with the chief
Residents share breakfast and concerns with Mantecas top cop
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Manteca Police Chief Dave Bricker, left, listens intently to Clint Boersma discuss a situation along with Gary Duran. - photo by GLENN KAHL
In an effort to be closer to the public, Manteca Police Chief Dave Bricker mixed with the Saturday morning breakfast crowd at Johnny’s Restaurant on East Yosemite Avenue.

It was a two-hour session for him with little time to take more than a sip of his coffee.  He talked with citizens until 10:30 a.m. taking no time to sit down and have breakfast even though waitress Frances Keeler was keeping an eye on his coffee.

A smiling Bricker walked into the restaurant shortly before 8:30 a.m. with his wife Ruth, a former parole agent in her own right.  The chief made the rounds of the tables introducing himself and sitting down to listen when someone had a question or a problem.

The general topics covered gangs, burglaries and traffic along with giving advice on domestic violence situations. Those in the restaurant quickly learned that the chief is easy to approach and easy to talk to about any incident in their lives.

The Saturday morning breakfast – or just coffee – with the chief was the first in a series that will continue the first of each month at different restaurants in his effort to go to the people who don’t have the time to meet with him in his office.

“This is fun,” Bricker said.  The first three folks he talked with had seen the story in The Bulletin and went to Johnny’s just to talk with him.  “That in itself has already made it worthwhile,” he said.

“They often won’t call the police, but they will ask a next door neighbor who is a cop and is mowing his lawn,” Bricker added.

One homeowner told of a harassment situation where neighbors have been aiming a boom box toward the bedroom window late into the evening.  The chief learned the speakers are connected to a light sensor so that when officers arrive and put light onto the house in question the noise is automatically turned off.

Bricker said he would look into the problem directing additional patrols in the neighborhood now that they are aware of the harassment.

Sitting in a booth by the windows, Leon and Marlene Thompson said they had lived next door to Officer Dan Chestnut – knowing him since he was a young police Explorer.  They had nothing but good to say about Chestnut who was recently awarded state honors for his efforts in ridding the streets of drunk drivers.

Marie Nunes told Bricker she has lived in Manteca since the 1930s and has seen all kinds of police officers over the years.  “They are doing a good job,” she said.

Mike Lourario was there with his wife Mable and daughter Janet Teicheira, telling Bricker he had lived in Manteca on Lathrop Road for 88 years – born in the old family house.  He said his acreage is all in grapes and he is told he shouldn’t be working anymore – “but, I do it anyway,” he quipped.

One resident questioned the chief on the need for the large, high speed police cars.  He told him that the European countries are successfully using smaller vehicles along with one larger unit each shift to transfer prisoners.  He said he thought it could be a cost-saving for Manteca.

Of course there is a potential problem when that transfer unit is at county jail with a prisoner and officers are taken out of service waiting for its return.

Clint Boersma and Gary Duran caught the chief’s ear for some 15 minutes at their table.  Boersma and Bricker had both served in the Air Force during their younger years.  Boersma, a Vietnam vet, had questions on burglaries and gang issues.

Boersma had a colorful past with his dad dying when he was just a junior in high school.  It was just him and his mother on the farm in Wisconsin, and he had to quit school and take care of the farm and milk the cows by hand.  He said after he went into the military, he was given a GED test which he passed on the first try – to his surprise, he added.

Gary Donovan – author of numerous letters to the editor in The Bulletin – walked up to Bricker as he was leaving the restaurant.  He said he just wanted to shake his hand for the good job he has been doing in the community.

Two nurses – from Modesto and from Stockton – welcomed the chief at their table.  They said they meet at Johnny’s every Saturday morning for a great country breakfast.  They then go on to report for work at their respective hospitals.