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Auto body owner converts older Ford into new gang unit for Manteca Police
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Mike Middleton put some $6,000 worth of tender loving care into restoring a used Crown Victoria police unit into nearly new condition. He shows the pride in his product flanked on the left by Manteca Police Chief David Bricker and Lt. Greg Lassell. At right is Capt. Charlie Goeken and gang intervention officer Jason Hensley. - photo by GLENN KAHL
Mike Middleton went beyond expectations for kids when he volunteered to restore a Manteca police unit into a brand new looking gang prevention unit.
The Ford Crown Victoria police interceptor with 68,000 miles had nearly 100 dings in its skin when it rolled into Middleton’s Auto Body and Paint Shop on West Yosemite Avenue.

Gang prevention officer Jason Hensley said Middleton didn’t hesitate a minute when he was asked to restore the pursuit vehicle – spending hundreds of hours in the restoration effort.  Middleton knows there is a gang problem in Manteca and hoped his effort in working on the car would help in slowing that progression, Hensley added.

Middleton said the charges amounted to some $6,000 in time and parts that he donated in the name of the kids in the community.  The body shop owner also is involved in coaching football to boys in the city during his off hours.

He explained that the car was fully torn down restored, painted and put back together before it was cleared to go back on the street this week.   A difficult part of the task was removing the blue horizontal line from under the department logo on both doors – it had been painted by county jail inmates with a heavy strip of paint – first thought to be only an easily removed decal.  It took hours to remove.

Hensley will be using the new “Gang Prevention Unit” in his assignment that takes in the city and a portion of the extended school district.  The officer said it will probably be used as well by officers on the graveyard shift as well as for transporting suspects to jail.

“We are working with the Lathrop Police Services’ Deputy Andrea Lopez and Bill Rochford who are wanting to get involved in the ‘Chief’s Initiative’, ”  Hensley said.  The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office has their own gang prevention unit that serves the Manteca Unified School District sites in the rural areas of Manteca.