Manteca Police Captain Tony Souza is stepping down after 27 years of serving and protecting the city’s residents.
Souza — who competes in Iron Man competitions — has been lauded by his peers as an outstanding officer, mentor, for always going the extra mile, and treating those he meets even on the wrong side of the law with respect.
Souza got the bug to become an officer while in his freshman year at Delta College when he took an elective course, “Introduction to Criminal Justice” in 1984 and the teacher told them war stories” about police incidents.
“I thought, man, that is what I want to do,” Souza recalled.
He said he had initially intended to go into Marine Biology but then he transferred to Fresno State University and joined the Fresno Sheriff Office going into their reserve program while in school. He ran the department’s Alternative Work Program on weekends where he would have county offenders clean some 10 miles of roadways on Saturdays to work off their court fines.
Souza said he also directed a “Policing Program” while attending Fresno State and was paid a small salary while he was in college and went on more than 100 patrol ride-alongs with his favorite deputy. he graduated from Fresno State in 1988.
Shortly after graduation he was hired by the Burbank Police and was sent to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s academy in Valencia. He served two years on patrol and working many movie sets in Burbank meeting Johnny Carson and witnessing the filming of “Terminator 2” where he met Arnold Schwarzenegger who invited him and his partner to eat in the VIP food area with them.
“They had steak and seafood in that truck,” Souza said.
He returned to Manteca in 1991 and was hired onto the Manteca Police Department by then chief Willie Weatherboard who lived down the street from Souza and his family. It was always his goal to come back to Manteca.
“As a young boy I would see Willie drive by our house in his black and white police car,” he said.
Souza was assigned to patrol duties in 1991. A year later went onto the SWAT team where he continued in that position for 24 years. He has lived in Ripon since 1996 with his wife Lori and their two now adult children, Ashley and Taylor. The Souzas also have three grandchildren.
He lauded his wife Lori for supporting him during his tenure as a police officer and staying by him during the many night shifts when she was alone with their children at home worrying about his safety.
It was in 1992 that he was transferred to detectives where he served until 2001 when he went back to patrol as a sergeant. He was then sent back to detectives as the detective sergeant until 2011 when he was promoted to lieutenant and then in 2016 he became a captain.
In his years as a police captain he has supervised many departments within the Manteca agency including: records, dispatch, animal services, code enforcement, property and evidence, general investigations, gang investigations, and the Street Crimes Unit.
Souza’s actual retirement is about two months away when he will be calling in a food truck to the department and hosting his fellow staff members to a farewell lunch behind city hall.
To contact Glenn Kahl, email email@example.com.