For many years every swearing-in and promotion ceremony at the Turlock Police Department had certain elements that could be counted on: Someone would have some glowing words to say about the honoree, a badge would be pinned on by a loved one, an oath would be taken and a chocolate bar would be doled out from Rev. Al Opdyke.
Opdyke served as a Volunteer in Patrol and as a chaplain at the department for numerous years and one of the roles he relished the most was sending out new and veteran officers with some well-thought out words of wisdom and a chocolate bar to keep them smiling. For Opdyke the chocolate bar had come to symbolize the potential of positive thinking and he believed it was a valuable lesson for all law enforcement to retain.
“Al’s passion was always to be at our swearing-in ceremonies or promotions,” said Turlock Police Chief Nino Amirfar. “He loved coming forward with his chocolate bars and giving them to the officer and giving them encouragement. His story regarding the wonders of chocolate always brought a smile to everyone’s face and really did help out on those nights you didn’t get a chance to eat. The bar was nourishment for body and soul as with it came the reminder of a joyous day.”
Opdyke passed away on Feb. 12 after a long fight against pancreatic cancer. And while he will no longer be at the ceremonies to hand out a chocolate bar, it doesn’t mean that the tradition will be coming to an end.
In memory of Opdyke, Amirfar will continue to hand out chocolate bars at all the special occasions, only now they have been dubbed the “Al bar.”
“Al Opdyke was our friend,” Amirfar said. “He was a caring and selfless man. He always had a kind word and a smile for all.”
Along with the new name, the wrapper has some encouraging words that embody Opdyke’s mission: “When you are tired, or overwhelmed, or think of giving up — take a bite of this chocolate bar. It will energize you. Celebrate your accomplishments!”