Rupinder Mangat moved to Manteca a few years ago and immediately set out to be an active member of the community he now calls home.
It didn’t take Mangat — an insurance agent — long to figure out where he could do the most good. What was stopping him was his age. He hadn’t yet turned 40.
Last month Mangat became the newest member of the Manteca Seniors Helping Area Residents and Police (SHARP).
The SHARP unit allows the city to enforce qualify of life issues such as abandoned shopping carts much more robustly and timely than they would be able to do if they relied on available staff that has other duties that often are a higher priority.
They are the reason graffiti doesn’t linger and disappears relatively quickly. They are why illegal signs such as those placed on power and light poles disappear after those posting them fail to retrieve them. They have allowed Manteca to get a handle on pilfered shopping carts to the point you can no longer on any given day drive the streets and spot 50 plus carts. They are extra eyes on the streets looking for suspicious activity to alert dispatch. And they are the reason why officers are often freed from having to secure the perimeters of crime and major accident scenes.
The impact of the volunteer effort is not lost on the rank and file. It is one of the reasons why those that serve as the Manteca Police Department’s liaison will go above and beyond working with the SHARP unit. A prime example is the current liaison, Captain Charlie Goeken, was recognized last month by SHARP for how well he has worked with the volunteer group.
The volunteer unit started 27 years ago when Willie Weatherford was police chief. It is one of the most active and effective in the state. Originally the ranks were open to only those 50 years and older. The threshold has been lowered to 40. And while some thought was given to renaming the group VIPS — Volunteers in Police Service as is the case with the Ripon Police Department volunteers — the decision was made to stick with the SHARP moniker due to its high level of recognition and the positive history the unit has built.
While Manteca residents see SHARP volunteers manning barricades along parade routes as they did Thursday, working traffic control when requested by officers, cataloguing graffiti for county work crews to remove on Saturdays and sometimes removing it themselves, taking illegal signs down, performing requested vacation checks for homeowners on vacation or simply patrolling neighborhoods or streets near schools to keep an eye on things and to mark vehicles that may have been parked too long, there are a lot of behind the scenes things they do as well.
The non-public help they perform ranges from helping with filing to delivering documents and such to the court, district attorney’s office, or other city departments. All of their effort helps police personnel across the board be more efficient and frees them up for higher priority concerns.
“They are invaluable as extra eyes on the streets,” Police Chief Jodie Estarziau recently noted.
Last year those extra eyes helped Manteca Police remove 162 abandoned, inoperable or stolen vehicles left on public streets. They also conduct vacation checks of homes as requested by residents who are on vacation.
Arguably one of the biggest things they do to help keep Manteca safe is through deployment of the unit’s rapid response team. They are volunteers who within a few minutes notice often in the wee hours of the morning will respond to patrol’s request to help secure scenes of major incidents such as fatal traffic accidents that require a prolonged on-site investigation.
In doing so they either help free up an officer to work on the investigation or allow them to respond to other calls. The impact on the level of service Manteca Police are able to provide is significant especially at night when staffing is often at its lowest level.
In 2018 SHARP volunteers clocked 10,390 hours of service to the community.
Information on how to become a SHARP volunteer appears on the city’s website on the Manteca Police page.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org