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Appreciation Day Notes Service, Sacrifice Of Law Enforcement
Taking a turn on stage, Oakdale Police Chief Scott Heller thanked those in attendance at the recent Law Enforcement luncheon at the Bianchi Community Center, while representatives from the city and legislative representatives stand behind, ready to present certificates. Marg Jackson/The Leader

From Fish and Game to the CHP, the sheriff’s department to Oakdale Police, local law enforcement personnel were in the spotlight this past week in Oakdale.

The annual Law Enforcement Appreciation Day was observed locally on Jan. 15, with a luncheon and program staged at the Gene Bianchi Community Center.

Officials said the idea behind the gathering is to provide an avenue to show appreciation for “the difficult but necessary job” that law enforcement officers do on a daily basis.

Serving as the keynote speaker for the event was Marc Malone, Superintendent of Schools for the Oakdale Joint Unified School District.

“You stand in the gap,” Malone told the law enforcement officers in the audience, adding that they should be recognized for “the proper and precise execution” of their duties.

He also noted that it isn’t just the officers themselves that deserve recognition.

“It’s a brave family that sends you to work every single day,” Malone pointed out.

The superintendent said the school district has a good working relationship with local law enforcement, and he has regular contacts with Stanislaus County Sheriff Jeff Dirkse, Oakdale Police Chief Scott Heller and School Resources Officer Guillermo Manriquez. And, said Malone, it is imperative that everyone get involved in making the community a safer place, calling for a mitigation of “acts of senseless violence.”

“Evil cannot be eliminated, Malone said, “but it can be mitigated.”

He advocated leadership over rhetoric and said that the issue of school safety, especially, is one that he holds dear.

“We want to be comprehensive, wholesome and safe,” he said. “You put boots on the ground … you have real human interaction and with the result of you helping, we are better than we ever have been before at the Oakdale Joint Unified School District.”

Malone added that leadership qualities can be broken down into four basic principles: Listen, Learn, Help and Lead.

“I thank all the law enforcement agencies here today for embodying that process,” Malone said.

Also taking the stage to share a few words was Oakdale Police Chief Scott Heller, who welcomed the other law enforcement agencies in attendance and told the crowd that the city is getting safer.

“Crime is down for the fourth straight year,” Heller said. “Officer initiated contacts are up, arrests are up, that is due to our community oriented policing policy.”

He thanked the community for its support, asked for a round of applause for the officers of the Oakdale Police Department and said he is proud to be a part of the organization.

Personnel from Fish and Game, the Modesto CHP office, Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department and the Oakdale Police Department were all in attendance and a representative from each was called up to receive a variety of certificates and handshakes from Evelyn Starman, representing Board of Supervisors member Kristin Olsen; Helen Condit of Congressman Josh Harder’s office; Couper Condit of Assemblyman Heath Flora’s office; and Oakdale Mayor JR McCarty.

Oakdale Rotary Club president Kimberly Sullivan Gray served as emcee for the event and Medlen’s House of Beef catered the luncheon.

Representatives from a number of law enforcement agencies took time to pose for a group photo following a special Law Enforcement Appreciation Day luncheon in Oakdale. Marg Jackson/The Leader