In Cheri Silveira’s more than two decades in law enforcement she has never had a pinning ceremony, so when the opportunity came up to mark her latest promotion, she wasn’t going to let it just go by.
“I have pinned three badges on my husband and he has never pinned one on me,” Silveira said. “I’m proud to show my three boys that their mom — a girl — can do this.”
What Silveira has done is earn the rank of lieutenant with the California State University, Stanislaus Police Department, and in the process, become the highest-ranking female law enforcement member in Turlock.
Silveira’s promotion took effect May 31, but the recognition of her achievement among her family, friends and colleagues was expressed during a ceremony Friday afternoon at Stan State, where she took the opportunity to thank all those who have played a role in helping her reach this milestone in her career.
“Nobody achieves their dreams and goals by themselves,” Silveira said. “Everyone here has helped me along the way.”
There was one person who actually played a pivotal role in Silveira’s decision to enter into law enforcement who was absent from the ceremony and likely unaware of her impact — an unnamed shoplifter.
Silveira did not start out with dreams of becoming a police officer. Rather, she wanted to be a veterinarian and enrolled at CSU Stanislaus as a zoology major.
“I went to the first class and I thought ‘this is horrible.’ I’ve got to find something else,” Silveira said.
Feeling unmoored from the path she thought she was going to take, Silveira took up a friend’s offer to become a loss prevention agent at a department store in Merced.
“Even then people would ask me if I was going to become a cop and I would say no, that’s not my thing, even though I didn’t really know what I wanted to do,” she said.
Then along came that shoplifter.
The details of the theft may have faded away, but Silveira remembers vividly the pursuit out of the store and the feeling of elation she had when she caught the thief and brought her back to the store.
“That was when I knew what I wanted to do.”
Silveira switched her major to sociology and began volunteering with the Turlock Police Department.
“I was serving subpoenas and I thought it was so cool that I got to drive a car and have a radio,” Silveira said.
Her work ethic and enthusiasm earned her a spot as a cadet with the department and later she became a dispatcher, which she said she really enjoyed, but it wasn’t quite what she wanted.
“I wanted to be on the other side of the radio,” Silveira said.
She started with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, but soon accepted a position with the CSUS Police Department and felt right at home. Silveira has been with the department for just under 18 years and during that time she won the Officer of the Year award twice.
“Cheri Silveira embodies the code of ethics and we are very lucky to have her here,” said CSUS Police Chief Clint Strode.
While working in patrol she became involved with the Rape Aggression Defense program, which she now spearheads for both students and the community.
In 2015, Silveira was promoted to sergeant and took on the responsibility of the evidence room, which she reorganized and streamlined.
In her current role as a lieutenant, Silveira will oversee the Parking Management Bureau, Stanislaus Parking, and Live Scan finger printing, among other duties.