A motorcycle police escort to work Friday morning was a salute to the 27-year police career of veteran Officer Barry Blackburn prior to the start of his final shift at the Manteca Police Department.
Blackburn was picked up at his Escalon home by Officer Jason Hensley in a black and white patrol car surrounded by three Manteca motorcycle officers at about 5:30 a.m. It was Blackburn’s last day on the job and his fellow officers were making sure nothing happened to him before he checked out at 4.
Officers on the motorcycles, carrying out the “last day retirement tradition,” were Sgt. Paul Carmona, David Bright and Patrick Danipour.
The patrol car and motorcycle escort with red lights and sirens blaring pulled into the Athens Burgers restaurant in the 400 block of West Yosemite Avenue after making their entrance into Manteca. They were headed for breakfast with their friend and much respected fellow officer.
Hensley said it was an emotional experience to escort one of the department’s tactical heroes on his final ride to work. Hensley noted that Blackburn had been a part of the Manteca SWAT team for 17 years.
As for the breakfast, Blackburn thoroughly enjoyed corned beef hash and eggs with his buddies.
When it came time for the day to end and his drive back into the department’s motor pool on West Center Street Friday afternoon, he was met by many of his fellow officers on both sides of the clock — the shift change from day shift to swing. They had their pictures taken with Blackburn. His wife — a police dispatcher and their son — arrived at about the same time and took part in watching the hugs and handshakes from his fellow officers.
The longtime police professional who has served in most all capacities, first signed on to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department where he worked in the jail before being hired by the City of Manteca. He rode motorcycles from 1992 to 1995 prior to going on patrol. When he left the traffic division and dismounted his motorcycle for the last time, he was replaced by veteran officer George Crowley.
Already off duty and dressed in casual clothes, Sierra High School resource officer Eva Steele pulled up to the group in her SUV and had them pose in a group shot around a police motorcycle as she took her own photograph.
Blackburn is expecting to renew his real estate license and to go after his pilot’s license.