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Rotary honors law enforcement
LAW DAY ROTARY6 5-6-16 copy
Congressman Jeff Denham, center, and Manteca Rotary President Charlie Halford, right, stand with the 2016 Don I. Asher Memorial Law Day Officer of the Year Award honorees, from left, Ryan Luiz, Lathrop Police Services, Sgt. Chris Mraz, Manteca Police Department; Jahil Walker, San Joaquin County probation officer; Javier Ramos, San Joaquin County District Attorney investigator; and Gregory Barker, California Highway Patrol. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

California Highway Patrol officer Gregory Barker is credited with making one of the biggest “busts” ever out of the agency’s Stockton office.
The officer — in his sixth year of service — pulled over an unlicensed male driver who had had a female companion with him. He noticed a number of metal lined purses in the back seat. They are used by professional thieves to steal merchandise from stores without them being detected by security systems.
After running a warrant check he found out they were suspects in a string of shoplifting incidents at Victoria Secret stores.  A check of the trunk revealed $10,000 worth of stolen Victoria Secret bras.
Walker followed up with Victoria Secret loss prevention officers. The end result: The man he arrested was operating a “fake” Victoria Secrets store in Honduras and was stealing bras from California stores to stock his shelves.
That’s why his fellow officers rib him for making a “big bust.”
The line prompted a round of laughter Thursday at the Manteca Transit Center during Manteca Rotary’s annual Don I. Asher Law Enforcement Awards presentation. The award is in honor of the late Don Asher who served as the Manteca Municipal Court judge after a stint as the city attorney.
While the story delivered chuckles, the event was about honoring the officers who day in and day out put their lives on the line to keep the community safe.
“The men and women of law enforcement go out there every day knowing they may not be going home to their families,” said Congressman Jeff Denham who helped make the presentations. “Things can go horribly wrong on a routine traffic stop.”
Denham noted Stanislaus County last year lost a law enforcement officer who was simply escorting a locksmith that was changing a lock in connection with an eviction.
Barker who was described as one of the CHP’s hardest working officer makes a big impact on road safety. In 2015, Barker made 128 driving under the influence arrests. He has earned the coveted Century Award from Mothers Against Drunk Driving for five consecutive years. To earn the honor an officer must make 100 or more DUI arrests in a year.
Sgt. Chris Mraz, who is retiring later this year after 32 years in law enforcement, was the Manteca Police Department’s Officer of the Year.
He is the supervising officer of the department’s Streets Crime Unit that last year took 28 firearms off the street including a fully functional AK47, seized $350,000 in cash, 39.8 pounds of meth, 5.5 pounds of cocaine and more than two tons of marijuana.
Police Chief Nick Obligacion noted Mraz’s detective work led to a major multi-agency bust recently that involved coordinated raids in San Jose, Elk Grove and Manteca. The effort shut down three large homes — including one next to a Manteca elementary school — that had been converted into marijuana grow houses, a fully functional meth lab, weapons, 116 pounds of marijuana, cash and numerous pants.
“The chief credits me but it was the work of everyone in the unit,” Mraz said.
Detective Ryan Luiz of the Lathrop Police Services was also honored.
San Joaquin County Sheriff Steve Moore noted that as Lathrop’s only deputy he handles a wide array of cases. The sheriff cited two that the detective’s tenacity brought to a quick resolution. One was a brutal home invasion robbery where a woman was hit in the head twice with a wrench and dragged around her home as the suspects demanded valuables. The other involved a child being kidnaped from her custodial parent.
He was able to bring that case to a quick conclusion by working with agencies across the region and ultimately in Illinois to have the suspect arrested as she stepped of the train in Chicago and having the girl reunited with her father within two days.
Rotary also honored San Joaquin County District Attorney investigator Javier Ramos.
Ramos has been in law enforcement for 25 years including the last nine years as a DA investigator. During that time he has handled more than 100 homicide investigations. His supervisor said Ramos’ calm and steady demeanor is invaluable in handling high profile and sensitive cases.
Jahil Walker was honored as the San Joaquin County Probation Officer of the Year.
He has supervised high risk offenders, violent offenders, and pre-trial monitoring among other assignments since joining the department in 2005.
Walker has enjoyed a high level of success working with parolees who have major challenges such as drug abuse and being habitual offenders. His supervisor credits that to his being firm and fair and listening to his clients.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email