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Officers earn awards for drug sweeps
Two Ceres police officers were honored Monday evening with the "chief's award" for their part in making the streets of Ceres a safer place.

Officers Lorenzo Beltran and James Riley each received the "Chief's Award" for outstanding job performance during the first meeting of the newly installed Ceres City Council. Chief Awards are presented by de Werk for acts of valor, heroism, outstanding performance or lifesaving.

DeWerk noted that the pair collectively effected over 300 drug arrests, wrote two search warrants for narcotics sales, and with the help of the Ceres Street Crimes Unit and Ceres SWAT Team, seized $22,931 in cash and removed 4.5 pounds of methamphetamine, over four ounces of heroin, over 4,400 pounds of marijuana, and 40 guns off the streets since February.

"That's a phenomenal output," said Chief Art deWerk. "As a police chief I have not seen that kind of performance in 39 years of being in law enforcement and 20 years of being a chief."

He noted that "not only have they been working tirelessly in an unforgiving environment, but they have used excellent policing and investigative skills in their efforts to make our community safer." He also stated that the officers exemplify the best of professional policing.

"These two gentlemen realize the nature of the threat that our communities are facing, particularly with the moving in of the drug cartels, the early release of various prisoners from throughout the state who are moving to our area so our neighborhoods are seeing a lot of problems and... have taken that to heart."

Prior to entering law enforcement, Riley served in the Army for nearly eight years, completed three tours of duty in Iraq, and received numerous military awards, including the Purple Heart, before being honorably discharged in 2008. He joined Ceres Police Department on Jan. 25 after spending three years at the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department as a Deputy. Riley has been a member of the Ceres SWAT team since August 7, 2011, and is currently assigned to patrol.

Beltran began his career in law enforcement as an explorer with the Ceres Police Department for four years. He then worked as a Stanislaus County Sheriff's deputy for a year, and then joined Ceres Police Department as a full-time officer in 2007. Officer Beltran was also a member of the Ceres SWAT team. He is currently assigned to patrol.

A number of relatives and police and fire personnel were present for the ceremony. A full council consisting of Mayor Chris Vierra and councilmembers Ken Lane, Bret Durossette, Mike Kline and Eric Ingwerson applauded the officers as well.