Common sense and charity intervened last week to keep a man - who ordered and ate a large meal at a restaurant he couldn't pay for it - from going to jail.
The generosity of a Ceres patrol officer, however, is not the first time an officer has done something his job doesn't require.
Ceres Police Officer Bryan Ferreira responded to a June 15 call placed by the manager of Denny's Restaurant on Herndon Road about a customer who could not come up with a way to pay for his $20 meal. After he arrived around 2 p.m., Ferreira found Turlock transient Dwayne Reichert, 46, allegedly suffering from memory loss and explaining that he did not have a wallet or any money.
Ferreira didn't believe jail was a solution since Reichert was apologetic and waited for the police instead of fleeing. So the officer approached the restaurant manager and suggested that since Reichert seemed genuine, that he would help pay the man's tab if the manager split it.
Officer Ferreira could have arrested Reichert on a penal code section that makes it illegal to "defraud an innkeeper." Instead of taking Reichert to jail he was given a ride to a Turlock homeless mission where he was taken in.
Ferreira is a three-time Chief's Award recipient due to his acts of valor and humanitarian service to the community.
"He's not the only officer who's done that," said Ceres Deputy Police Chief Mike Borges. "That wasn't unique. We have officers who have dug into their own pockets, especially late at night when social services aren't available, to help out people who have no money. And they haven't asked for reimbursement."
Borges said that recently Officer Coey Henson made arrangements to pay for a room for a woman found walking the streets with a cart of possessions and two small sons.
On June 4, Sgt. James Yandell assisted a 54-year-old Sacramento woman who ended up in Ceres after being stranded by an accident in Turlock. The towing company referred the woman to the Ceres yard to retrieve her vehicle. The woman was found by Yandell sitting in front of the towing yard at 1 a.m. waiting for it to open in order to get to her wrecked car so she could retrieve a Western Union check inside the vehicle to get way to return home. Yandell inquired and found that the car was actually impounded in the Turlock yard, so he took the woman to the yard and then paid for a night's stay at a hotel and some spending money.
"It shows the community that there is another side to the Ceres Police Department. You don't hear about these stories. You hear about what they do wrong or hear about it when the ACLU goes after us or when we're being sued or claims filed against us," Borges said.