Jodie Estarziau ‘s biggest challenge as she starts her third year as Manteca Police Chief is the competitive market for qualified law enforcement officers that has made keeping staffing at needed levels an ongoing issue.
Retiring officers and a demand for new officers elsewhere has created what Estarziau calls “an employee’s market.”
“We have had a lot of retirements – the hiring process is challenging – it takes a long time to get through,” the chief said. “It’s an employees’ market as agencies are hiring everywhere but only a small number make it through the process. I’ve been able to work well with our human resources department and when I anticipate a vacancy, they let me go out and recruit. I can always get a two week start if they have a list compiled. But as far as an applicant’s background, there is not much I can do with that.”
The department has been able to add six new positions during the past two years despite the hiring challenges.
Estarziau started her law enforcement career in 1990 as a member of the Ripon Police student Explorer Unit. She then served as a dispatcher in that department from 1994 to 1996 before joining the Manteca Police Department. She became police chief in 2017.
Estarziau has recently promoted Steve Schluer from sergeant to lieutenant and Josh Sweeten to the rank of motorcycle sergeant. They will both be pinned with their new badges at city hall at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 21. in the council chambers. Schluer also serves as president of the Manteca Unified School District Board of Trustees. Sweeten is a former Ripon Police Department officer where he rode motorcycles and now heads the Manteca PD motor unit.
The chief said she is currently trying to raise the profile of the department in the community where citizens often notice social media posts about “the dogs and cats issues” in the city and see little about the detectives working diligently on more serious cases such as the shooting on Louise Avenue two weeks ago.
She noted that her detective unit has been working 24/7 on a multitude of cases that that the public is often unaware of at the time and which require several officers to cover the investigations. She noted she has only one part-time public information officer and it is difficult to get everything on social media.
“I am frustrated with social media as I want to showcase the department as much as I can including coverage of the ‘Business Watch’ program and its breakout sessions that has not come without a struggle,” Estarziau said.
She lauded the Seniors Helping Area Residents and Police (SHARP) volunteers and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) for their efforts to augment department services,
A recognized horse woman, she has been working to get the mounted horse patrol unit back into operation with Officer Joe DeAngelis searching for officers interested in being a part of the long-established posse that visited school campuses and worked parking lot patrols during street fairs and the Christmas holidays.
DeAngelis said he has four prospects in the department who have shown interest in being part of the horse unit. Estarziau said they are planning a fundraiser in Ripon at the Swiss Hall to cover the costs of room and board for their mounts. That would bring the number of riders up to six.
As for the chief’s home life, she and her husband have two children, a boy and a girl, 7 and 10 years old.
“I constantly hear from my daughter, ‘Mommy, did you arrest someone today’?” Estarziau said.
“I don’t know if they really understand what my job actually entrails with all of its paper work and budget preparation,” she said.
Her husband is also a police officer but with the City of Stockton.
Estarziau said she also wants to reestablish the “Bike Unit” already having five officers certified to be on that neighborhood-level patrol. She also noted the value of the new Drone Program headed by Lt. Paul Carmona as a new investigative tool that will be a help in solving a number of cases and locating suspects in the field.
Animal Control under the leadership of Carly Bozik is setting up spay and neuter clinics for pet owners on Monday, March 11, at 6 p.m. The chief also noted that the Gang and Street Crimes Unit have merged into one creating a better quality of life in a more robust team on the streets of Manteca under one supervisor instead of two.
The city recently added 30 security cameras throughout Manteca to augment public safety efforts.
During her first year as chief she was honored by the State of California for her achievements as a woman in Law Enforcement as a “Woman of the Year.”
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