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Diners like police chief chatting with them over breakfast
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There wasn’t a cup of coffee in Police Chief Dave Bricker’s hand as he circulated the booths at The Waffle Shop Saturday morning talking to residents about everything from traffic to gangs.

But with a look that spelled both concern and resolve, Bricker didn’t have time to worry about coffee as he attempted to hit each and every table of diners that were willing to offer up concerns, criticisms, and even a few accolades regarding the department he’s charged with running.

“The biggest benefit of this is getting out and talking to people – letting them know that they can approach the police and tell us about their problems and find out about what can be done to solve them,” Bricker said. “The most important thing for an officer or a department is to know something needs to be addressed, and this is a big part of that.”

While his public presence has long been a staple of his career with the Manteca Police Department – from school presentations back when he was one of the town’s only narcotics officers to neighborhood watch visits – Bricker started the meet-and-greet concept last month to put an emphasis on the community oriented approach the department is taking at combating crime.

So far, it’s gone over well with diners who are at first surprised to find the police chief stopping by their table but happy that they have a voice with the most powerful law enforcement figure in the city.

“I think that it’s awesome that he’s out here doing this and getting the face time with the people that he’s representing,” said resident Debbie Veazey.

“We went through the e-mail process a while back when we had some problems, but this really puts a face on those who are fighting the crime in our town and that is a good thing.”

While she was enjoying breakfast with her two daughters and her grandson, Cindy Soto was thrilled to score a few minutes with Bricker to talk about the status of things in her neighborhood and the city at large. She noted that the informal exchange was much better than the typical bureaucratic steps that need to be taken in order to achieve such a result.

“I came down here just to have breakfast, and I ended up with the police chief staying at our table to have a few words with my grandson,” Soto said. “That says a lot about what he’s trying to do here in this community.”

To contact Jason Campbell, e-mail, or call (209) 249-3544.