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In defense of the Manteca Police Dept.
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Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
Over the years I’ve read Steven Catalano’s letters and have never chosen to respond to them.

It’s usually not worth it. Such writers are what I call “mosquitoes.” They live to make a lot of noise, and are usually a nuisance. They are, however, also blood-suckers by nature so you can’t always ignore them.

Sunday, Mr. Catalano seemed to take the Manteca Police to task for firing 17 rounds of tear gas to end a day-long stand-off with a pair of bank robbers who had holed up in a duplex a block away from the bank. Mr. Catalano took issue with the damage done by the tear gas, the length of time of the stand-off, the help of other police agencies and even the lack of a gas mask for a police dog.

First, I’ll address Mr. Catalano’s financial complaints. He’s really complaining about the price of tear gas canisters? Has he priced them recently? I wonder if the police were trying to clear Mr. Catalano’s house of fugitive bank robbers, would he want a written estimate first?

And about the dog. I certainly wouldn’t begrudge the dog a gas mask, if they’re available, but remember Mr. Catalano’s always complaining about public spending. You’d know he’d have a field day the first time he saw a German shepherd with breathing apparatus.

Again, a financial watchdog complaining about outside agency assistance? In this time of budget constraints I would hope we move appropriate personnel into place any time possible. Manteca police and fire routinely assist other departments, that’s cost-effectiveness and the added resources are priceless.

Yes, there was tremendous damage to the duplex, and, more importantly, it displaced the residents. While the landlord’s homeowners’ insurance might pay for the building damage, the renters were literally left out in the cold. Churches, a quilting group, and civic groups quickly chipped in to help. The biggest donors? They were the two Manteca Police Department employee unions.

I don’t think Mr. Catalano tossed anything in the hat. Mosquitoes rarely do.

Finally, Mr. Catalano takes the department to task for taking so long to get in the duplex. Is he suddenly an expert on police tactics? Has he figured out what a cop’s life is worth going through the door? If he has, I’d like to hear it.

In fact, since Mr. Catalano appears to be such an expert on clearing houses of armed bank robbers, may I suggest he lead the charge next time? We won’t give him a gas mask, because he thinks they’re too expensive. But we’ll make sure he leads the charge into the duplex, in the dark, guns a-blazing.

Alas, it will never happen. Mosquitoes merely make noise.

Mr. Catalano, consider yourself swatted.
Dennis Fleming
Sept. 8, 2009