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4 retired Manteca police chiefs in hot seat
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Veronica DeBrum gets to help shave Nick Obligacion’s hair to raise additional funds for the American Legion Pott 249 during Thursday’s Ultimate Pig Roast. - photo by GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

It was a sold-out house for Thursday night’s American Legion’s “Ultimate Pig Roast” fundraiser lampooning four retired Manteca police chiefs – Willie Weatherford, Charles Halford, Dave Bricker and Nick Obligation.

The event started at the Manteca Senior Center with a dinner before four “roasters — Chuck Crutchfield, Steve DeBrum, Karl Knutsen and Sgt. Joe Ahuna — took to the microphone and were merciless in their zingers.  

Crutchfield asked for a stool so that the shorter Obligacion could stand on so people could see him when he stood up.

The highlight of the evening came near the end of the two-hour event when Obligacion offered to have his full head of black hair shaved off in exchange for donations totaling at least $1,000 toward the benefit of the American Legion Post 249 Foundation.  The crowd delivered almost twice that much before a number of guests lined up to take part in turning him into a “skin head.”

DeBrum referred to Chief Halford as “two nickels Charlie” and Chief Bricker as Chief BTM and challenged their driving records while with the department.  He said “these two bright lights” couldn’t figure out that South Manteca Road down toward the river had a curve in it, saying they both crashed in the same spot 10 years apart.

The former mayor then put Obligacion on the hot seat referring to him as “Chief Little One.”  DeBrum told the crowd how Obligacion cared about talking things out with his partner – his canine partner, threatening to kick him in the behind if he didn’t perform.  Then there was the time when “Chief Little One” had to use a flash-bang grenade that came back and hit him, adding if he had only been a foot shorter it would have probably missed him. 

DeBrum had some sage words for former Chief Bricker noting he had seven accidents in police cars.  When city staffers looked up his profile, they found he had been trained earlier for teaching driver training.  Despite those accidents he was sent to school to continue his education in training his officers how to drive safely. Tongue in cheek, DeBrum claimed that Bricker went 17 days without a call from his dispatcher. 

Ahuna said that Chief Weatherford really took a chance in hiring him at the young age of 18 when he became a police reserve.  

“It really showed a lack of judgement,” he chuckled. 

A photograph of a much younger Weatherford flashed on the screen with a shot of Columbo seen next to him.

Directing a statement at Weatherford with regard to his age, he said, “If I was going to roast anyone it had to be you, because you probably wouldn’t remember what I said.”

Then Ahuna took on Obligacion saying he was “stand-offish like an unhuggable porcupine recalling when they had to drive to Carson City to pick up a prisoner, “We drove from Manteca to Nevada and I started talking.  We spoke all the way – I spoke and he grunted and tried to get me out of the car when he woke up,” he noted, finally with them coming to terms about friendships.  

Ahuna said Halford reminded him of Barney Fife. Ahuna said Halford found a way to use stolen grocery carts by turning them on their side and creating a barbecue. Halford was challenged for being too community oriented and wanting to help people constantly.

Knutsen, who had been the teaching JROTC sergeant at East Union High School, came from back stage donning an orange jail jumpsuit with handcuffs on his wrists.  He challenged all four chiefs as to their association with him before his arrest.  He finally presented Obligacion with a large rubber fish and then pulled out a poorly engineered stun gun, streaming with wires that he pointed at Obligacion and finally handed it over in true “slapstick” style.

All proceeds from the dinner are going toward the Legion’s effort to modernize and expand their post hall in the 200 block of East Yosemite Avenue in downtown Manteca.

To contact Glenn Kahl, email