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Officer makes big dent in organized retail crime teams
MPD officer of the year
Manteca Police Officer Dave Brown is the 2020 Don I. Asher Memorial Officer of the Year honoree for the department.

Editor’s note: This is one in a series on law enforcement officers honored by the Manteca Rotary.

Manteca Police Officer Dave Brown noticed a disquieting trend that was sweeping across retail businesses being targeted by seemingly organized teams looking to clean them out of valuable merchandise in a brazen and efficient manner.

And for his efforts in working to stamp out organized retail theft – where specific retailers are targeted for high-value items that are then resold on the street – Brown was honored as the Manteca Police Department recipient of the Don. I Asher Memorial Officer of the Year Award.

“Officer Brown is committed to his job and to helping our community while keeping them safe. He promotes teamwork within our department and within our community,” the Manteca Police said in a statement about Brown’s honor. “Officer Brown personifies the commitment that we want our officers to have in serving the community – his efforts and work are appreciated by many and he is always willing to help his co-workers and those in the community.

“His dedication and commitment to addressing issues is why he was chosen as our Officer of the Year.”

It was in his work as a patrol officer that Brown first started working closely with loss prevention officials from local retailers, and was the first to suggest the idea of local retailers submitting online shoplifting reports to the department that could then be tracked for trends across the community and compared to other cities in the region.

In developing that program and continuing to build on the relationships he had created within the big box retailers across the community, the department was able to more clearly establish crime trends and figure out an efficient way to respond to these crimes as they were occurring – a plan that eventually including having officers assigned to a specialized unit that Brown would eventually become a part of surveilling areas likely to be subjects of the brazen criminal thefts.

And his efforts did more than just protect the retailers and help keep prices down for consumers.

As the number of these crimes continued to mount, Brown and the rest of the department were able to determine that those responsible for these crimes – in which thousands of dollars of merchandise were stolen from individual stores before moving on to others stores to do the exact same thing – often had violent criminal histories which made them a threat to public safety.

Brown’s pioneering work on the front of the emerging crime led to a number of these organized retail theft rings being broken up, and work with other neighboring law enforcement agencies helped identify suspects believed to be responsible for these types of crimes so that they could be watched for my officers assigned to the task force. The team worked with the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office to ensure that those who were arrested were prosecuted efficiently – especially since multiple instances of criminals from different counties choosing to target Manteca and San Joaquin County businesses specifically became apparent to investigators.

“He has successfully solved several of these Organized Retail Crime cases which have resulted in arrests and convictions – many of these arrests involve suspects who come from other cities and counties to target Manteca retailers,” the Manteca Police said of Brown’s work. “It was also discovered that many of these offenders have violent criminal histories.

“The networking Officer Brown has done with retailers within and outside of Manteca has been instrumental in solving many of these cases.”

Brown has been with the Manteca Police Department for 17 years, and previously spent five years as a police officer in the City of Livingston. He has held assignments as a patrol officer, a canine officer, and a field training officer, and currently holds a short-term specialized assignment in investigations working on organized retail theft cases.

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.