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New police hires installed, three promoted
Swearing in
Chief of Police Brent Smith swears in new officers Charles Hernandez, Kevin Sakasegawa and Miguel Villalobos, new sergeants Travis Hudson and Greg Yotsuya and new lieutenant Patrick Crane. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

A special Ceres Police Department ceremony was held Thursday evening to formally see the promotion of Patrick Crane as lieutenant from sergeant, Greg Yotsuya and Travis Hudson as sergeants and the swearing-in of new officers Miguel Villalobos, Kevin Sakasegawa and Charles Hernandez.

The event also allowed Ceres Police Chief Brent Smith honor Michael Ghimenti as "Police Explorer of the Year" and introduce him as the new Abandoned Vehicle Abatement (AVA) unit officer; honor David McCann as the department's "Volunteer of the Year"; Justin Vosbein as "Professional Staff of the Year"; and Hector Pulido as "Officer of the Year."

Police Chaplain Joel Richards opened the event with a few sentences and a prayer. He quoted from Roman 13 in the New Living Translation Bible passage that states "Everyone must submit to governing authorities for all authority comes from God and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling what God has instituted and they will be punished. For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what's right. They will honor you. The authorities are God's servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God's servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience."

Crane, who grew up with a dad who was once a Palm Springs police officer, moved to Ceres when he was 5. He attended Ceres High School at the same time as Chief Smith. Pat attended the Police Academy in Modesto and then earned a bachelor's degree in Police Management from Union Institute & University. Crane joined Ceres Police in March, 1999 and was promoted to Patrol Sergeant in February, 2009. During his 17 years with the Department, he has been a Field Training Officer and an SDEA Detective.

Wife Susan and daughter Kylie helped pin on his lieutenant's badge.

A new sergeant, Greg Yotsuya got interested in law enforcement as a scout when his scout master, who was a Hughson Police lieutenant, steered him into Police Explorer Scouts in Hughson. He attended Modesto Junior College where he majored in Criminal Justice. Greg joined the Ceres Police Department in 1990 as a reserve police officer. Two years later he took on the additional role of a reserve dispatcher where he met his future wife, Shawnna, who was also a dispatcher. In 1994 Yotsuya was hired as a full-time police dispatcher while continuing to serve as a reserve officer. Those years as a reserve paid off when in 1996, Greg was finally hired as a full-time sworn officer.

Greg has served on the Crisis Negotiation Team, where he is now the assistant team leader. He has also served as a Field Training Officer, a house detective and on the Gang Intelligence Task Force. He has also been called on to be the acting Watch Commander and oversee the entire Department when command staff is away for team building workshops.

The "Officer of the Year" in 2009, Yotsuya enjoys his involvement with the annual Beards for Kids and Shop with a Cop program because it impacts the lives of many underprivileged families at Christmas time.

Shawnna, who gave him a daughter and a son, pinned on Greg's sergeant's badge. Family member watching included his mother, brother and brother-in-law, all of whom are involved in law enforcement.

Travis Hudson served in the Air Force from 1994 to 2003 and flew 20 combat missions in the Middle East before he became a Ceres Police officer in 2005. The Downey High School graduate was promoted to sergeant on Thursday.

Hudson was deployed to the Middle East before Sept. 11, 2001 and after and left at the rank of E-5. The lowest point of his military career happened when good friend Justin Wood was killed by a terrorist bomb in Saudi Arabia in 1996.

For over 10 years Hudson has been a Range Master and member of the SWAT team, for which he is now the assistant team leader. Besides serving on patrol, he was on the Street Crimes Unit and was a detective with the FBI Gang Task Force for five years.

Wife Krista and sons Lucas and Sawyer helped to pin on his sergeant's badge. Family members at the proud occasion included his mother, Dee Shumake, father and stepmother Richard and Kathy Wood, and his grandfather Bill Singleterry who is a World War II veteran.

Attention was focused on new officers Miguel Villalobos, Kevin Sakasegawa and Charles Hernandez.

Villalobos, who was born and raised in Modesto and graduated from the Ray Simon Regional Criminal Justice Training Center in 2002, has been on the job since July.

He graduated from Modesto Junior College in 2006 with an Associate of Science Degree in Administration of Justice but will be working on his bachelor's degree in the near future.

He has been in law enforcement for 15 years and was working for the Newman Police Department as a School Resource Officer when he was hired by Ceres.

Miguel was recently appointed to be the advisor for the Ceres Police Explorer Scout program.

Participating in his ceremonial badge pinning were wife Glafira, and two daughters.

Kevin Sakasegawa, who was a reserve officer in Modesto for two years and sworn officer in Merced for a year, has been patrolling Ceres streets since August.

He graduated from Salinas High School and attended the Fresno Police Academy and then on to Fresno State University where he obtained a BA in Criminology with a minor in Kinesiology.

He has been married to his wife, Morgan for three years and they have a one-year-old daughter. Attending the ceremony included his parents, Jim and Diane Sakasegawa and sister Nicole Sakasegawa.

Charles Hernandez joined the Ceres Police Department Family last week. A recent graduate of the Modesto Police Academy, Hernandez was actively pursued by several of the Ceres lieutenants before his graduation to be recruited as a new officer.

Before the Police Academy, Chuck spent five years in the Marine Corps as an MP. He was assigned to a 1st Law Enforcement Battalion that supported the training of combat patrols, combat lifesaving skills, tactical sight exploitation, and combat profiling and tracking. As part of Operation Enduring Freedom, Chuck supported battlefield operations in Afghanistan from October, 2010 to May, 2011 during which time he lived with 50 Afghan National Army soldiers and trained them on basic infantry skills, patrolling, weapons handling, and how to secure detained personnel in a combat zone.

His oldest son, Ben, pinned on his badge as Charles' wife, Danielle, and another son watched.

Four honors
Michael Ghimenti was nominated to be the "Explorer of the Year" due to his dedication and consistency to the program. The Ceres High School graduate is the son of Stanislaus County Sheriff's Undersheriff Ralph Ghimenti. Mike was part of the Ceres Police Explorers from 2013 until 2015 when he aged out after turning 20. It was at this point that Michael went from explorer to employee when he was hired to be the department's new AVA officer.

He is currently attending Modesto Junior College working towards a degree.

David McCann was nominated peers to be the "Volunteer of the Year" due to his hours of service, his assistance to patrol, and his willingness to help. He started in December, 2011 as the volunteer coordinator and today is the Crime Stoppers Liaison and Neighborhood Watch coordinator.

David is often out on patrol and has been trained to handle cold calls, code enforcement and AVA issues along with the normal VIPS duties, such as parking citations.

A reserve police dispatcher in August, 2013 who was hired full-time in March, 2014, Justin Vosbein was named "Professional Staff of the Year." He was nominated due to his professionalism, ability to anticipate the needs and expectations of the officers he works with, and his willingness to go above and beyond what is expected of him.

During his time at CPD, Vosbein has helped with alarm billing notices and has played an integral part in making decisions about the new Dispatch Center that is set to start up in February.

Attention was given to Hector Pulido, who was named "Officer of the Year."

He was nominated due to his professionalism and dedication to the department. Chief Smith said "Hector comes to work with a great attitude and is always willing to help his fellow officers. He takes the time to interact with the citizens of Ceres and is committed to building positive relationships with them."

Before coming to Ceres Police, from 2004 to 2009 Hector served in the Army and was deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan. Upon returning home, he attended the Police Academy and graduated in 2010. He was hired as a reserve officer by Ceres shortly after he graduated and soon became a fulltime officer due to a grant the department received.

He is currently enrolled in school, working towards his Bachelors in Criminal Justice Management.

Pulido is a Field Training Officer and a member of the SWAT team and this willingness to accept additional duties has earned him the respect and appreciation of his peers.

Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) chapter Commander James Coverick presented Pulido with a plaque and offered his thanks for his service.