I spent Halloween night riding along with two Manteca Police officers looking for spooks who had too much to drink before they got behind the wheel. It was part of a saturation patrol planned to keep children and other motorists on the street safe.
There were many more officers on the street because of the Halloween trick or treaters and the adult parties. Halloween is statically one of the deadliest nights for DUI accidents.
For a third party in a double unit — two officers in the front seats — leaves only the hard cushion-less back seat area as the default in a ride-along spot.
From there I saw an interesting reaction from another officer after we had been waved down by the staff of a bar on West Yosemite Avenue. They had a 647F who was so drunk he couldn’t stand up. It was that officer who decided he would shine his flashlight into the back seat and between the bars of the unit to see who Sgt. Paul Carmona and George Crowley had in the cage in the back of their car. Somewhat surprised, he recognized me and asked them what I had done, not realizing I was doing a Halloween night story.
Crowley is working patrol now, having been assigned to a police motorcycle for some 10 years. Carmona is the sergeant supervising the motorcycle traffic unit. I have known both of them for many years and watched them excel on the streets of Manteca.
There were several stops early in the evening for minor infractions and I was sure one of them was going to lead to a DUI arrest — it didn’t happen. There was definite activity spilling out of several bars we drove by but there were no kids in costumes on the sidewalks. The rain had apparently kept them indoors or at churches dunking for apples.
Biggest call was
fight, man with gun
One car southbound on Main Street that we saw weaving turned into the empty CitiBank parking lot. Not drinking, just putting on his cell phone head set, he told officers. Another motorist west bound in the 400 block of Yosemite Avenue caught the attention of officers. She turned south onto Main Street as Crowley turn on his emergency lights to pull her over. Obviously she did not see the red and blue flashes in her rear view mirror as she continued driving. Only after hearing the wavering blare of the SUV’s siren did she pull to the curb. She received a citation. Another woman appearing to be in her late 20s drove off Cottage Avenue and behind the bowling alley where she parked under the low branches of a tree in the parking lot. After talking to one of the officers, she popped out of her door in costume and with very professional clown-like mask painted on her face — all in the spirit of the night.
The most interesting of the night came over the radio when the officers were staging in the city corporation yard near the end of the night. There was a reported fight in the 400 block of Lincoln Avenue where a caller said there was a man with a gun. We were one of six cars to respond to the area of Sutter Street with all the units coming in with their lights off so they wouldn’t be detected.
It was soon determined there were three suspects who had retreated to a small, frame house and turned the lights out. Working together officers were able to talk two men and one woman out of the home one at a time. After they were in custody, a team of policemen searched the house for additional suspects and found a small hand gun.
The evening ended with one more tour by a bar on North Main Street where the street was parked to capacity.
Recalling ride along
and encounter with
Hell’s Angels gang
The night brought back a memory of a ride along probably close to 40 years ago when I was in the front seat with then Sgt. Leonard Taylor who would later become Manteca’s chief of police. It was a period in Manteca’s history when the city was repeatedly plagued by motorcycle gangs riding down Yosemite Avenue. Since there had been a recent series of assaults against Manteca citizens including the beating of a police detective, a strict policy had been instituted when dealing with motorcycle gangs.
The program put one police car at the beginning of the riders’ formations and a follow up unit in the rear. Sgt. Taylor was in that car following the bikers and I was sitting next to him. They were all pulled over on Yosemite Avenue just west of Union Road. No shopping center there — just grazing cattle.
As the lead officer gets out of his car and starts to walk back toward the first rider and Taylor starts to open his door he made a big decision — big as far as I was concerned. He unlocked the shotgun mounted between us and told me to take it and stand in front of his police car.
“Just stand there and act like you know what you are doing,” he said in his stern voice.
I was something of a focus as the bikers looked back at Taylor walking toward them and at me holding the shotgun at port arms. It all ended peacefully after their individual IDs were logged and the troupe of Hells’ Angel bikers headed off toward the Bay Area.