Manteca Police Captain Tony Souza is retiring from a 30-years law enforcement career after “getting a front row seat in life” as promised by his field training officer.
His retirement this week caps 27 years with the Manteca department. The soft spoken lawman graduated from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Academy and joined Burbank Police to launch his career.
Souza — who is well respected by his peers — has a well-earned reputation of being able to prevail in foot chases of suspects. It’s a byproduct of training for one of his passions — competing in Iron man events.
“I was both excited and scared to say the least,” Souza said of becoming an officer. “I soon learned that it was important to listen to and mirror the actions of my field training officers and senior officers. They took good care of me in those early months and several of them are still my good friends today.”
His first call as an officer in Burbank was to respond to a carjacking.
Souza said he clearly remembers the day he received the news that the Manteca Police Department planned to hire him. Then Police Chief Willie Weatherford actually called him on the phone and welcomed him aboard.
“Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to work for six chiefs and many other supervisors and co-workers,” Souza said. “I can say, without a doubt, that I was truly blessed to be a part of this organization.”
Souza was born and raised in Manteca on El Capitan Street. He gained the nickname “Little Tony from the neighborhood” from his SWAT team brothers – saying it was the late Steve Harris who actually came up with that moniker. Harris and Souza worked well together with Harris being seen as his supportive partner.
“Every time I was chosen to go into a suspect’s house, first through the door, on a SWAT hit, Steve always found time to tell me: ‘I have a bad feeling about this one’ making my threat level go up 10 points,” Tony recalled.
“Whatever the future may bring I will always be able to say that I was one of you,” Souza told the gathering last Thursday at the Manteca Transit Center for the pinning ceremonies of nine new officers that doubled as his retirement ceremony. “We’re not perfect, but when we are at our best, we represent the very best that human beings can be.”
He is definitely a family man too, revering his parents who were in Valencia 30 some years ago to attend his graduation from the Sheriff’s Academy.
Souza and his wife Lori have two children, Ashley and Taylor
To contact Glenn Kahl, email firstname.lastname@example.org.