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Coffee with a dash of police & fire talk
Manteca Police Chief Dave Bricker talks with two residents at their table by the front window at Perko’s Restaurant Saturday morning answering their concerns and ideas about the city’s policing. - photo by GLENN KAHL
It was two Manteca public safety chiefs who made themselves available to the public over breakfast Saturday morning at Perko’s Restaurant in the shadow of the Highway 99 and Yosemite Avenue intersection.

Manteca Fire Chief Kirk Waters joined Police Chief Dave Bricker in his monthly sessions of making himself available to community members and their questions for the usual two hour period. Neither had much time for a sip of juice or a cup of coffee between their contacts at the tables.

With most of the breakfast crowd evidently coming from the two adjacent mobile home parks and Camellia Gardens, few brought up the subject of the illegal fireworks that plagued Manteca, Lathrop, French Camp and Ripon last week.

With family members sitting at a breakfast table, they both took opposite sides of the room rather than overwhelming diners by table hopping together.  While focused on the residents who had come to chat with him, Bricker was also quietly monitoring the SWAT action that was taking place on Devonshire Avenue in the northern, central part of Manteca.

Both men were obviously effective by tipping their “chamber of commerce” hats when talking to those having breakfast from out of the area and on their way to the foothills and to Northern California.  

Longtime Manteca Realtor Bill Castillo brought up the subject of the tentative plan for Manteca to take on the policing of the City of Lathrop.  He said there are many issues he feels need to be brought to the table first and to be studied at length before the city goes forward with the concept of dual city policing.

“With the economy the way it is, and other cities struggling, we should be careful not be misled,” he warned.

A couple who were having breakfast from Ripon told both chiefs that there greatest problem when coming into the city on Yosemite Avenue from Highway 99 was the almost non-existent lane markers.  They agreed that the buttons used to divide the lanes along with the striping was badly faded.

Chief Waters welcomed the opportunity to meet the public, especially while talking with the people at breakfast from the Del Webb community.  He said they are concerned as to when a new station is going to be constructed near their homes at Union and Louise avenues.

Others having breakfast and living near Woodward Park also showed concern when a fire station could be expected to become a reality on Woodward Avenue in the south- central part of the community.  The station will be located near the corner of Atherton Drive and Woodward Avenue, Waters told them.

Chief Waters said that Chief Bricker had invited him to join in the breakfast talks with members of the public.  

“It’s nice when the fire chief and the chief of police get along and can team up,” Waters said.  The plan to take their offices into a community restaurant presents a new venue for them to reach the public, he said.  There are already those who are regulars at the city council meetings, but these folks are welcome, new, fresh faces to the equation, he added.

Bricker said he was told that the city needed to put more monies into the Crime Stoppers Program in an effort to reduce time.  That gave him the opportunity to explain that Crime Stoppers is actually supported by community donations where citizens reporting a crime can remain totally anonymous.   He added that Crime Stoppers’ reports are included in the wording of search warrants.

The chief said that one citizen complained about gang problems on Alameda Street, noting that his department had already been addressing that situation.

With tongue in cheek, Chief Bricker said he tried to stretch the morning out.  “Now I have to go home and mow my lawn,” he chuckled.