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New reserve officers hired
• Police Chief Brent Smith preparing to retire
Ceres Police John Lee and Tony Sccopesi.jpg
Ceres Police Chief Brent Smith (left) has hired reserve officers in John Lee and Tony Scopesi.

Two new reserve officers have been hired by Ceres Police Department to beef up traffic division patrols.

The two hirings coincide with the quest to fill two new full-time police officer positions.

John Lee and Tony Scopesi, both retirees from Modesto Police Department, were sworn into their jobs by Police Chief Brent Smith at an informal ceremony on Wednesday. Both will work a maximum of 29 hours a week and while they will concentrate on traffic enforcement Chief Smith said they also will work in patrols and wherever needed.

“John Lee is the one who’s more experience in traffic,” said Chief Smith. “He is motor certified so he will on a motorcycle doing some traffic stuff as well as work his shift from time to time filling in. Tony is good with DUIs and he’ll also fill in for patrol shifts that are vacant.”

Ceres Police only has one full-time traffic officer, down considerably from the recent time when the department had three and a sergeant.

Smith plans to hire a second code enforcement officer which will relieve Sgt. Jason Coley of those duties for traffic enforcement.

A number of “retired” officers often seek work as a reserve to stay active and give themselves something extra to do while in “retirement,” said Smith. Retired Modesto officers are eligible to work for Ceres Police because the city of Ceres is not a part of CalPERS retirement system. Instead, Ceres is part of the Stanislaus County Employees’ Retirement Association, commonly known as StanCERA.

Lee was raised in San Jose and from 1972 to 1974 served in the Army and became a military police officer. The grandfather of five also served as a reserve with Menlo Park.

Scopesi was raised in Millbrae and Folsom and graduated from Casa Roble High in Orangevale and Modesto Junior College. He spent 19 years as a full-time Modesto Police officer and three-and-a-half years as a MPD reserve.

Chief Smith has one officer candidate in the Academy and another undergoing a background check. The City Council gave Smith the authority to hire a new officer after Jan. 1.

A large ceremonial swearing-in and awards ceremony will be scheduled sometime in March which will be Smith’s last. Smith said he is retiring as chief on June 30 after spending 25 years with the department.

“They’ll have an inside choice here with (Lieutenant) Rick Collins,” said Smith, “who is very well qualified.”

Smith, who turns 50 next month, said the social and political climate in California make it difficult for him to stay in law enforcement. He is also considering a move to western Idaho in time for his son to start high school in a new place.

“You’ve got to say when is enough enough? I mean, family is more important. I could stay here and make some killer retirement later … but I don’t think money is everything. I think I’ve got enough to live on, that’s for sure.”