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Lieutenant rank returns to Ceres Police agency
For the first time in 20 years, Ceres has a police lieutenant. Brent Smith, most recently a sergeant, was tapped Aug. 28 to fill the newly created position.

Lieutenant Smith assumed his new duties on August 29. He will be in charge of patrol operations, along with a broad scope of other administrative responsibilities. He reports directly to Ceres Police Division Commander Borges.

The department also promoted Deidre Borges as the city's first-ever female sergeant.

Public Safety Director/Police Chief Art de Werk said growth of Ceres required him to add the lieutenant position. He would like to see a lieutenant for each shift.

"Ceres is big enough in terms of size and volume of service to justify more than one lieutenant," said deWerk. "We're just going through growing pains. We're hopeful the revenue measure will pass so we can hire additional staff."

Within the police organization, a lieutenant ranks higher than a sergeant. But the position also has more responsibilities.

"We have one of the flattest police organizations around," said de Werk. "You have me running two departments basically and have a number of people report directly to me.

De Werk said that Police Division Commander Mike Borges had 11 people reporting to him.

"The span of control is just too great for one person to handle. So most police departments in a population of, 20,000 or more have at least one lieutenant.

"I think you're going to see other changes, too."

De Werk said sergeants were getting so bogged down in their offices that they didn't have enough time to adequately supervise on the streets, teach the officers and handle complaints coming in from the public.

The six sergeants handling patrols will all report to Lieutenant Smith.

Borges and de Werk will be in charge of the other areas, including records, dispatch, detectives, property and evidence.

The new lieutenant position was partially funded by deleting one of the 10 sergeant positions in the city budget.

Brent Smith is a Ceres High School graduate, and he earned his AA degree in administration of justice from Modesto Junior College, and a bachelor's degree in social science from Chapman University. He is enrolled in a master of arts degree at Chapman.

Smith first served as an MP sergeant in the Army, then worked as a Ceres Police reserve officer in 1993 before spending less than a year at the Merced County Sheriff's Office. He was hired as a regular officer in Ceres in 1994 and worked in all the units, including detectives, undercover narcotics, and a traffic officer. Smith was a member of the SWAT team for 10 years and also served as a field training officer. He became a sergeant in October 1998.

Smith also was very involved with the police equestrian unit.

"He's been very studious and working on his undergraduate degree," said deWerk. "He's put himself in a leadership development program which was conducted in Southern California.

"He's a very professional individual and in the knowledge that he's accrued."

Deidra Borges (no relation to Mike Borges), said she struggled with the decision to seek the sergeant's position because she will have to give up her involvement with the police canine unit.

"It was a very hard decision," said Borges. "It's something I enjoyed doing. I started the program."

Borges founded the canine unit in 1993 with the help of John Souza.

De Werk said that Borges has become known up and down the state for her expertise with police canines.

"She has been the main one with the program," said de Werk. "She just kept that program together and finely tuned it and got us the best dogs. These smaller units are harder to keep together unless there is somebody with their heart in it."

Still, Borges has felt stirred to set her sights on becoming a sergeant for the past two years.

"It was time in my career. I felt more able to do the duties."

Borges was a reserve police officer in Oakdale in 1983, then became an emergency medical technician (EMT) for Doctors Ambulance in 1984. She took a leave of absence to pursue the MJC Police Academy and was then hired as the first full-time female officer in Ceres Police history in May 1984.

She has worked in traffic, patrol, detectives and was a field training officer.

"It's another stepping stone," said Borges. "It's change and it's going to take time to transition into that role. I feel ready for it."

She said being a sergeant as a shift supervisor requires decision making for the officer on the street that affects liability. They also assist in major incidents and a lot of time in the office on the phone and doing paperwork.

Borges said she's found that "Ceres was the perfect place for me to grow with. It wasn't too big when I started and been able to grow with it. It's been a comfortable place for me to put in my time."