With the Monday, June 17 swearing in of Police Officer Andrew Stever, the Oakdale Police Department took immediate steps to fill the vacancy left with the June 14 retirement of veteran sergeant Darren Semore, maintaining existing manpower levels to a force that has been dwindling over the past few years.
Not only did the department upgrade “one of its own” to full-time by appointing Stever who has served in Level I reserve officer status since 2012, but they also hired a home-grown product and 2005 OHS graduate who obviously knows the ins-and-outs of the city.
“He’s going to do very well,” said Oakdale Police Sergeant Brian Shimmel. “I was one of his FTOs during his reserve field training and he excelled.”
Stever was serving as a reserve officer prior to his full-time appointment, regularly working a solo beat unit to supplement the limited patrol staffing. Since he completed the department’s 12-week formal field training process as part of being a Level I reserve officer, he’s ready to hit the street immediately.
“I got interested in law enforcement in high school from seeing and talking to the school resource officers,” said Stever, 26, who joined the department’s explorer program when in school.
Known as “Corn Fed” to some on the department because of his healthy and strong size, Stever also worked as a community service officer for the department from 2007 until being laid off in 2009 due to city cutbacks.
“I’m happy we have an officer working for us who grew up in Oakdale and truly cares about the city,” said Lieutenant Keri Redd.
In addition to Stever’s hiring, the department bolstered its reserve officer corps with three additional Level II officers.
While Level I reserves may be certified to work a patrol car alone, Level II Reserve Officers have to work under direct supervision of a full-time officer. Many go on to Level I status or are hired as full time officers like Stever.
“They do the same work we all do and have the same training,” said Sergeant Mike Nixon when introducing the new trio to the city council on June 17.
Jim Smith, 39, comes to the department with experience from Modesto Police Department. Smith has lived in Oakdale since 2002.
Chelsea Neal, 23, graduated from the Delta College Police academy in 2010 and went to high school in Sonora.
Waimen Chee, 26, lives in San Francisco and works for United Airlines. He was recruited to Oakdale PD by a friend and fellow reserve officer, John Deming.
“He’s (Chee) going to work a 15-hour shift here on his days off to meet the hours requirement,”
said Nixon. “That’s dedication.”
The department, once at 28 sworn members, rapidly shrunk in size to just 19 over the past few years due to retirements, layoffs, and the current hiring freeze of two vacant positions. The reserve officers have been supplementing some of the duties that are still required while saving the city money.
“In 2008 we only had two reserve officers,” said Police Chief Lester Jenkins. “In July we’ll be up to 10. I’m very grateful to them.”
The department also announced that Officer Bill Carter was moved to the investigations unit as a detective.