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Citizens tell police chief about growing traffic issues
Manteca Police Chief Dave Bricker (center) talks with Nate Lozando (L) and his family while having breakfast at the Waffle Shop. Manteca Police Chief Dave Bricker was on hand to listen to or talk about any concerns any Manteca citizens have. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin
Mantecans who went to the Waffle Shop on North Main Street Saturday morning had the option of chatting with police chief David Bricker during their breakfasts from 8 until 10 a.m.

During his monthly restaurant hop, Bricker had time for little more than a cup of coffee – finding no break to actually sit down and have breakfast with his wife Ruth.  Three patrolmen took advantage of some quiet time on the street and were on hand in a booth having their coffee when their chief walked through the door.

The chief said that a common question from citizens is their concern about when more officers are going to be returned to the street. 

“Many didn’t understand that Measure M is already responsible for paying for 11 cops,” Bricker said.

One table pointed out speeding traffic in the residential areas of Brookdale and Pestana avenues east of Highway 99.  The chief said he was not aware of speed violations in that neighborhood and he promised to have traffic officers assigned to watch for the speeders there.

 “Every time I do this I find folks will tell me what we need to hear.  It’s the best thing I do,” Bricker said.  “Besides I like to chat.”

J.R. Cabalar, Bob Nunes and Bill Fells told of the “olden days” when they were students at Manteca High in the late ‘50s – when only a boulevard stop controlled traffic at Yosemite and Main Streets in the downtown.
Nunes told the chief that he and his friends used to try to outrace the cops on Union Road some 50 years ago when the Yosemite Avenue and Union Road area was still nothing more than a cow pasture used for grazing.

Another table stop was to greet a family who had recently moved to Manteca from the Bay Area.  They had young twin boys, a young girl – all engrossed in restaurant coloring books – and a 14-year-old son.  The dad questioned the chief about the fire department’s high school cadet program that his oldest son might be interested in joining.

Bricker filled him in on how to get an application for the fire cadets as well as for the police cadet program – both having become popular with teenagers.  He also pointed out the value of the JROTC program and its available college scholarships.  Being part of either program makes it easier for teens to join the ranks of full-time officers when they turn 21, he said.

Another couple, just finishing their breakfast, waved the chief over to ask about what they described as a worsening traffic problem on Yosemite Avenue, just east of Highway 99.  Chet Thompson said he and his wife live in one of the mobile home parks at that location – seeing definite hazards to the seniors exiting those parks – and hoping that the traffic safety situation could be corrected in the near future.

Frank Mello, who grew up in Manteca, was having breakfast with a table of old friends after having returned for a visit from his present home in Kentucky.  He questioned the gang problems in Manteca saying he had grown up on Louise Avenue when that roadway was well out in the country.

Larry Henricksen and his wife Jan, along with 14-year-old McKenzie, seemed to enjoy a candid give-and-take with the Manteca police chief.  Henricksen had his own set of questions as did his wife and some suggestions as well.

The chief said it has been very helpful in the past when citizens opened up and told him of drug deals they saw going down in a city park and explained exactly how the sales were going down.  In one case last summer, citizens told the chief of a house they suspected had an active day and night sales of drugs they said were ongoing.

Two nights later police detectives arrested the occupants on drug-sale charges and took them to the San Joaquin County Jail in French Camp.

Bricker said members of the public will more easily talk to him over breakfast about situations in their neighborhoods where they often won’t take the time to go into the police department and sit down with their chief.