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Ceres Police Department adds seven new officers
Officer Juan “Manny” Ramos
A familiar face has been added to the ranks of sworn police officers with the Ceres Police Department. Juan “Manny” Ramos, a graduate of Ceres High School, is now on the force. He joined CPD from Los Banos Police Department. - photo by Contributed by Ceres Police Department

A whole batch of new sworn officers is out patrolling the streets of Ceres as new hires of Ceres Police Department.

Chief of Police Rick Collins hired seven new officers to replace five lost to retirement. At least one more officer positions have yet to be filled to reach the 52 positions authorized by the City Council.

“It’s still a challenge to attract people to come and do this profession,” said Chief Collins. “It’s not foreign to just Ceres. I think Modesto, the SO, all police agencies throughout the state and probably the nation are experiencing the same challenges.”

He has found that out of 100 applicants, one or two may meet all the requirements and pass the background and psych evaluations.

The new officers are Aaron McKnight, Juan (Manny) Ramos, Angie Valenzuela, Jake Valenzuela, David Whiteside, Jordan Justice and Charles “Chuck” Lord Huff.

Collins said many of the new hires came as the result of “word of mouth.”

“Our officers enjoy working here and they talk to their buddies who work at different agencies and they end up coming to work for us. It’s not like I spend time on the phone trying to recruit. I don’t steal from other chiefs or anything like that but we do offer an opportunity to come and work in a good environment.”

Collins feels the great support from the community of Ceres and the camaraderie within the department are what makes Ceres Police Department attractive.

Police Officer Aaron McKnight was hired Feb. 5 this year. McKnight comes from a family of officers with his older brother a retired Merced County deputy and his father a retired CDCR correctional officer. 

He was born in San Luis Obispo but raised in the Turlock/Denair area and graduated from Turlock High School. McKnight attended Modesto Junior College and was a police explorer and animal control officer in Turlock for seven years. He worked for five years as an Atwater Police officer and spent 15 years with the Merced County Sheriff’s Department.

He and wife Tiffany have two adult sons and a teenage daughter. In his spare time he likes to fish, shoot, hike and scuba dive. He is also an aviation enthusiast who has his rating as a commercial helicopter pilot and private fixed wing pilot.

Aaron McKnight
New Ceres Police Officer Aaron McKnight is welcomed by Police Chief Rick Collins. - photo by Contributed by Ceres Police Department

Police Officer Juan “Manny” Ramos worked his first Ceres PD shift on Feb. 5, 2023. He was born in Fallbrook but raised in Ceres where he graduated from Ceres High School. He spent a year as a correctional officer at the Stanislaus County Public Safety Center and two years as a sworn officer with Los Banos Police Department.

Ramos knows firsthand the dangers of police work as his sister is the widow of the late Stanislaus County deputy Dennis Wallace who was murdered in a traffic stop near Hughson.

Ramos prides himself as a do-it-yourselfer, and grew up playing most every sport, including on a traveling soccer team with the Ceres Earthquakes and Modesto Ajax. Some of his favorite pastimes are attending concerts and stand-up comedy shows. He also trains in jiu-jitsu.

Also starting on Feb. 5 was a married couple in Officers Angie Valenzuela and Jacob “Jake” Valenzuela.

Angie Valenzuela, a native of Turlock and Hilmar, she graduated from Hilmar High School and attended California Stanislaus State. She served in the Army as an Aviation Operation Specialist stationed at Fort Carson, Colo. After her service Valenzuela became a police officer for Northglenn Police Department in Colorado.

She and husband Jake, also a new hire with the department, have two sons, aged 10 and 6. Her hobbies include spending time with her family and making memories together. She is an avid hunter and loves to do anything outdoors.

Jake Valenzuela is a Turlock native and graduated from Turlock High School and attended college in Colorado. After serving in the Army for five years (stationed at Fort Carson, Colo.), he spent five years as a police officer with the Westminster Police Department.

Jake’s hobbies include hunting, fishing and family activities that include watching the sons in sports.

Officer David Whiteside, who started on March 5, grew up in a law enforcement family. His father is Dave Whiteside who retired as Hughson’s police chief and city manager. A brother-in-law works for Hayward Police Department and a sister-in-law works for Newark Police.

The younger Whiteside was raised in Hughson and graduated from Hughson High School. After attending MJC and Patten University as a student athlete, he played professional baseball for five seasons – two in Arizona and three in Canada. During the off-season, he assisted and trained high school and collegiate baseball athletes.

Whiteside comes to Ceres Police with 18 months of experience as an officer with San Francisco Police Department.

He and wife Natalie are raising two daughters. For fun he enjoys playing baseball and softball, outdoor activities, coaching, traveling, home projects and family activities.

Jordan Justice’s first day with Ceres Police was on March 27, trading in his Stockton Police badge. He lived in Modesto until he was 10 and Ceres has been home since. Justice graduated from Central Valley High School and attended Modesto Jr. College. Justice used to play baseball and later became a professional soccer referee.

Justice and his wife Alicia have a two-year-old son and a newborn daughter. When he’s not working and spending time with the family he enjoys playing video games.

Police Officer Charles “Chuck” Lord Huff started Ceres Police patrols on May 15, coming with two years’ experience with Atwater Police and 18 months with Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department. Born and raised in Atwater, he graduated from Atwater High School.

His brother works for Clovis Police Department.

He is married to Lauren and has two step-sons and one daughter.

For fun Chuck enjoys hunting, fishing, baseball and riding a one-wheel.

New Ceres officers 2023
Among the new hires within the Ceres Police Department are Charles "Chuck" Lord Huff, Jordan Justice, Angie Valenzuela, Jake Valenzuela and David Whiteside.