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Rotary honors CHP officer who saved trapped driver
Angel Arceo
Angel Arceo

California Highway Patrol officer Angel Arceo who put his life at risk to save a driver trapped in an overturned vehicle in an irrigation district was honored as the Manteca Rotary Law Enforcement CHP Officer of the Year.

The service club annually honors outstanding officers nominated by their peers in the Manteca Police Department, California Highway Patrol, the San Joaquin County Probation Department, the San Joaquin County Sherriff’s Office, and the San Joaquin County Probation Department.

Arceo graduated from the CHP Academy in March 2006.  Upon graduation, his first assignment was to the San Jose area where he spent two years.  In July 2008, Officer Arceo transferred to the Stockton area, where he is currently assigned to motorcycle patrol duty.  Arceo grew up in Escalon, and graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with a degree in Criminal Justice in 1995.  He served in the United States Army as a Cavalry Scout from 2000 through 2004.  Arceo is married and has three children.

Arceo primarily works the afternoon shift, where he focuses his efforts towards positive impact on the primary crash factors in California: impaired driving, distracted driving, and speeding with the goal of reducing traffic crashes and saving lives. 

During 2020, Arceo arrested 26 impaired drivers.  Each one of those arrest represented a life saved.  He has made numerous other arrests for a wide range of offenses.  In addition to his regular field patrol duties, Arceo served on the CHP Valley Division Special Response Team, which serves a flexible, rapid, and coordinated response team to handle a variety of events, including homeland security, active or potential acts of civil disturbance, and/or natural disaster or mutual aid requests, which have the potential to inflict harm to human life or damage to property or state infrastructure.

On May 6, 2020, Arceo performed an act of superior effort at significant risk to his personal safety when he removed a driver trapped in a vehicle, upside down in an irrigation canal.  The involved vehicle, a white Nissan, had run off the roadway and overturned into an irrigation canal.  The driver of the Nissan was trapped inside the vehicle. 

Once on scene, Arceo removed his protective police equipment and motorcycle boots and entered the irrigation canal.  Arceo was aided in his rescue efforts by a few “Good Samaritans”, a few other officers and firemen.  Arceo immediately began to organize the efforts of the rescuers.  He broke out the right rear window and opened the Nissan’s right rear door and cut the side curtain airbag to make an escape route for the driver.  Within 10 minutes after arriving at the scene, the driver was pulled from the vehicle by Arceo.  The quick actions of Arceo, most certainly saved the life of the driver.  This example is just one of many incidents for which Arceo demonstrated his “can do” attitude toward public service and law enforcement.  He has earned the respect and praises from the entire CHP-Stockton Area management team for his dedication to public service.

Stockton CHP Commander Captain S.A. Setter noted “Arceo’s character is always above reproach and he reflects the departmental organizational values: Courage, Honesty, Professionalism, Principles, Respect, Integrity, Dedication and Esprit De Corps.  Throughout his career, he has demonstrated his commitment to the State of California, the Citizens of California and the citizens of San Joaquin County.”

The annual awards are made in honor of the late Don Asher who served as a municipal court judge as well as being a member of Manteca Rotary. It is done in conjunction with Law Day that falls on May 1.

Typically the club hosts the honorees, their commanding officers, and their families during an awards luncheon. The in-person event was canceled due to the pandemic in favor of being a part of the service club’s weekly Zoom meetings for the next six weeks.

President Eisenhower in 1958 proclaimed May 1 as Law Day.

 The rule of law is the bedrock of American rights and liberties—in times of calm and unrest alike. The 2021 Law Day theme — Advancing the Rule of Law, Now — reminds all of us that we the people share the responsibility to promote the rule of law, defend liberty, and pursue justice.