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Rotary honors men & women of law enforcement
Don I. Asher Memorial Law Day Officer of the Year recipient Lance Casqueiro, center, who serves as the Manteca Police Departments gang suppression unit detective, stands with retired Manteca Police Chief and incoming Manteca Rotary President Nick Obligacion and Manteca Police Chief Jodie Estarziau during Thursdays presentation during Manteca Rotarys Law Day observance at the Manteca Transit Center. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

Lance Casqueiro came within feet of being killed by a speeding train to save a man walking on the tracks who was intent on committing suicide.
 Timothy Novetzke’s determination and sharp investigative skills closed 330 cases of welfare fraud and also secured evidence for arrests in an embezzlement of $1.2 million from Health Plan of San Joaquin.
Timothy Heitzmann works to stop the almost daily carnage on the 120 Bypass and other South County roads.
John Nesbitt worked with thread bare evidence to bring justice to a Manteca rural couple terrorized in a home invasion.
Raymond Pagaran keeps an eye on convicted criminals to help keep them on the straight and narrow.
All five were honored Thursday by the Manteca Rotary during the service club’s 45th annual Law Day observation by being bestowed the Donald I. Asher Memorial Award presented to outstanding law enforcement officers who are nominated by their peers.
And to a person, they all had the same attitude as Casqueiro.
“What I did was what anyone else (on the force) would have done,” said the Manteca Police officer who put his life on the line on Sept. 3, 2016 to save a man as he was walking in the middle of the tracks toward a Union Pacific freight train barreling down on him near downtown.
Casqueiro and others had been dispatched after the department received 9-1-1 calls about a man walking down the tracks. Casqueiro quickly spotted the man and then noticed the train coming. Without hesitating he ran toward the tracks, slamming into the man with a tackle to push him out of the way with seconds to spare. The man continued to struggle to try and throw himself toward the train but Casqueiro was able to keep him pinned to the ground.
The officer said it wasn’t him as much as team work. He noted the dispatcher was able to provide exact information about the color of the man’s shirt and where he was located saving precious seconds in the response.
“What we do is the totality of everyone working together,” Casqueiro said. “The only reason it was me (that saved the man) was because I got there two minutes ahead of other officers.”
Casqueiro, who is now part of Manteca’s gang suppression unit, started with the department as a community service officer.
Novetzke who serves as an investigator for the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office has been serving since 1992 either in the Navy Reserve, as a police officer or as a DA investigator. At one point he was even a reserve officer for the Manteca Police Department. He was hired by the Modesto Police Department in 1997.
His long list of accomplishments includes participating in the successful investigation and prosecution of 70 criminals that committed additional crimes behind bars while incarcerated at the Deuel Vocational Institution near Tracy. But what speaks volume about his dedication to serving and protecting came in 2010 at the depth of the recession when his DA investigator position was part of the county budget cuts.
His Navy training allowed him to move into a vacancy in the county Public Works Department. He kept his law enforcement training sharp by serving during that time as a reserve for two different police departments until he was able to be rehired as a DA investigator.
Nesbitt is an 18-year veteran of the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office. He is currently a detective assigned to robbery-homicide.
Sherriff Steve Moore illustrated Nesbitt’s professional, tenacity, and thoroughness by citing two difficult cases — both home invasion robberies — that posed major obstacles to successfully investigate.
In the case of the rural Manteca home invasion, Nesbitt noted a good solid tip from the community allowed him to pursue a path that led to securing evidence for warrants, an arrest and successful prosecution of those involved.
“We work best when the community works with us,” Nesbitt noted.
Heitzmann has been assigned to the CHP office in Stockton for five years and works the South County.
His fellow officers lauded him as hardworking, no-nonsense, and a great beat partner who always does the right thing.
San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar noted law enforcement day in and day out “see cruelty, the worst part of humanity” but still serve with “compassion, integrity, and professionalism.”

 To contact Dennis Wyatt, email