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Keener ends 28-year police career
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The soft-spoken Mike Keener is retiring from the Manteca Police Department after a 28-year law enforcement career that began in Escalon and ended with him being the Manteca bomb squad commander with support from the FBI and other federal agencies. - photo by GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

Two people owe their lives to Manteca Police officer Mike Keener.

Keener, who is retiring after 28 years in law enforcement, saved two lives in the early days of CPR – a young woman and the other an elderly man with medical conditions who was already breathing through a stoma in his neck.

The soft-spoken officer said he clearly remembers the woman who had been hit over the head with a chair.  She was in her early 20s and down on the floor when he arrived on the scene.

“You were always told to wear a mask for your own protection with CPR,” he said, adding that he didn’t have one with him that day. 

After he administered CPR she began breathing again and lived through her ordeal. The woman is still alive today, he said. It was just two of the times that he put his CPR training to use as a police officer to help people who had stopped breathing.

The older man had been stricken in Escalon while Keener was serving on that city’s police force. He survived thanks to Keener’s CPR efforts and lived another two years.

In elementary school he would deliver groceries to his maternal grandmother who lived only four blocks away from his family home in Modesto.  His other grandmother in Ceres would “wow” his friends when they went with him to see her after school with her serving fresh biscuits right out of the oven covered with chocolate gravy.

Keener was diversified during his career serving in the capacity of everything from a canine officer, to patrol, and detectives working in the crimes against children cases including the shaking of children by family members.

He first put on a badge in Escalon in 1985 as a reserve officer. He went full-time three years later in 1988 when Escalon paid for him to attend the Modesto Police Academy.  In 1992 Keener was hired by the Manteca Police Department and assigned to both the day shift and later the swing shift. 

The officer’s first dog “Izak” was a Belgian Malinois that worked with drugs – the only one in the county at the time. The pair was often called out often by the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department for mutual aid in drug cases. His German shepherd “Dorak” worked with him on patrol.

During his time in Escalon he served as a field training officer and acting sergeant for over seven years and had been a volunteer for the Escalon Fire Department.   When he moved on to Manteca, he was assigned as range master in 1989 at the Manteca police gun range.  Keener spent 16 years in investigations and 12 on patrol while in law enforcement. 

He remembers having a lot of kids’ cases that could become very emotional,  specially with shaken babies involved.  In his first case of a shaken baby he could find no information on the cause and effects making an important connection with U.C. Davis Dr. Kevin Coulter who made the investigation easier for him having all the answers.

“Child abuse is very fulfilling as it always helps the family out,” he said.  “When you knew the kids were going to be OK that was the big thing.” 

As for robbery cases, he remembers 10 that were linked with Turlock, Modesto, and Stockton where the arrest of two suspects saw the men turn on the remainder of the robbers in the group.  The FBI also got involved in the investigation, he said.

Keener was assigned to the bomb squad in 1992 while still on probation with Manteca PD.  It linked him with the Red Stone Arsenal in Alabama. He was sent there nearly a dozen times for training and re-certifications. He became a liaison in the process with the Bomb Data Center run now by the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives unit.

There were five sergeants assigned to the Bomb Squad team in the county and its commander was only an officer – Mike Keener.  The Manteca officer said he found several live bombs in the community during his tenure and all kinds of military munitions brought home by soldiers returning from combat.  Among those were T&T and Det Cords with enough force to take down a sizeable tree when the cord was wrapped around a tree trunk.

During his tenure, he was also on horseback with Manteca’s mounted unit.

His son Clay, now 20, served in the Manteca Explorer unit for five years. He has been hired as a cadet with the Modesto Police Department.  He is part of the support personnel being trained as a paid community service officer. He hopes to join the regular force when he turns 21.

Son Chase has gone to work for the Manteca Fire Department as a firefighter – a job that Keener had wanted himself before getting into law enforcement.  Son Collin works for Costco with hopes of becoming a teacher.

Daughter Cydney, 16, has her focus on medicine, hoping to become a physician if she can get into a medical school after college.  She currently has a 4.1 GPA with AP classes at Escalon High School.

A sideline for Keener was “Keener’s Uniform and Supply” business that he had established in Escalon for area law enforcement personnel and operated from 1993 to 1998.