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Lathrop deputy saved man from burning car
lathrop officer
Lathrop Police Chief Ryan Biedermann, right, stands with deputy Jimmy Claude – the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office recipient of the Manteca Rotary Club’s 2020 Don I. Asher Memorial Officer of the Year Award.

There’s a man alive in Lathrop today because of San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Deputy Jimmy Claude.

On Thanksgiving of last year, Claude – who was only 22-years-old at the time – arrived on the scene of a DUI accident near Lathrop City Hall where an extremely intoxicated man had crashed his vehicle into the roundabout and was trapped inside as flames started in the engine compartment.

Clause used his baton to break out the tempered glass windows of the vehicle and pulled the man to safety before the vehicle burst into flames – one of the signifying events that earned him the Manteca Rotary Don I. Asher Memorial Law Day Award as Officer of the Year for 2020.

“This year, statistically, he leads everything – he’s an extremely proactive officer and he exemplifies what the sheriff’s office is all about,” said Lathrop Police Chief Ryan Biedermann. “He stared here as an explorer and then he became a cadet and a deputy – he literally grew up in this office – and he has established himself as a leader and remains a great, humble kid.

“You really can’t say enough good things about him.”

In 2019 Claude responded to 1,468 calls for service and arrested nine suspects for driving under the influence and 54 for various criminal charges.

While he remains a hard-charging deputy assigned to the Lathrop Police Services division of the sheriff’s office, Biedermann said that he makes everybody around him better and exemplifies the professional approach to law enforcement that Lathrop specializes in.

When he isn’t working Claude remains committed to the community he serves by taking in basketball and football games at Lathrop High School. His dedication to the community is evidenced, Biedermann said, by his interactions with those that he is sworn to protect.

“The community loves him,” Biedermann said. “I’m always getting calls about how professional he is, and he’s doing all of this as a 22-year-old.

“He pushes his peers that are much older than he is and it makes Lathrop all the better for it.”

Each year the Manteca Rotary Club honors five divisions of local law enforcement by awarding the Don I. Asher Officer of the Year Award – recognizing the work of officers from the California Highway Patrol, San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office, San Joaquin County Probation Department, the San Joaquin District Attorney’s Office Investigations Unit, and the Manteca Police Department.

Because of the constraints placed on the Manteca Rotary by the COVID-19 pandemic, the recipients of the 2020 award were given their plaques without a formal ceremony and will be honored next year at a full event along with the 2021 recipients.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.