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Sergeant Borges retires
After 28 years of service, Ceres Police Sgt. Dedra Borges has retired and she's not looking back.

Members of the department celebrated her retirement with a dinner and roast held at the Ceres Community Center.

"I think I was ready," said Borges of retirement. "I made the decision and went with it and am enjoying every bit of retirement. My kids are 13 and 10 and I had enough years in so it's time to be at home and help raise the kids (Nicole and Peter)."

Within days of her Sept. 6 retirement, Borges said she felt a twinge of guilt thinking about not being there with her fellow officers but noted "that quickly went away. I did my time. There's no looking back."

Borges said things got to the point that she wasn't willing to put up with a disturbing trend that where criminals are being mollycoddled by state leaders and the courts.

"I see how a shift has taken place and how law enforcement is going and I don't like it. I see less punishment for the criminals and they don't suffer the consequences for their misdeeds. The cities are strapped for money and .... I see more violence in the shift in the criminal justice system. More guns are being taken off of people. I just don't like the direction it's going.

"I believe in our police officers 500 percent; I just wish the public would give them more tools and more leeway to do their job. We are living and breathing people who have kids and just want to protect people like us from the bad people."

Borges faults the higher court for forcing the state to release prisoners earlier because the state is not building more prisons.

"I have no patiences for thieves and people who do violent crimes after 30 years of dealing with the same people and next generation of these same people."

At her Friday retirement party, Sgt. Pat Sullivan and Borges had a friendly disagreement about who hired her. Sullivan said he came on the force 10 days prior, hired by then Chief Leroy Cunningham. But Borges said in that time Cunningham retired and Pete Peterson became chief and hired Dedra Goenawein - a 1979 Sonora High School graduate who also was an ambulance EMT - as an officer in May 1984.

"Cunningham would not have hired me," she said. "He didn't like women as officers."

She came to Ceres Police after serving as an Oakdale Police Department reserve officer. "Dee" worked her way through the ranks leading up to retirement on Sept. 6. She served as a patrol officer for one year starting from May 25, 1985 and then became a field training officer. On Oct. 21, 1987 she became a detective. She was back as a regular officer in October 1990, then on May 4, 1992 was promoted a corporal - the department no longer has them - who filled in when sergeants weren't available.

Borges went back to patrols in July 1997 and a short while later became a canine officer. She was made a sergeant on Aug. 29, 2007.

She worked with hundreds of officers and superiors over her 28 years in Ceres, including the late Officer Jared Puryear, the late Sgt. Howie Stevenson and the late Police Division Commander John Chapman.

"Dee has always been her own person," said Sgt. Sullivan. "She had all the qualities you'd want in an officer. She was excellent at doing her job."

Borges recalls working as a detective on a rape case involving a young woman who was picked up by field workers and taken into an orchard where she was sexually victimized. The woman had only vague descriptions and her story didn't hold a lot of credibility. Still, Borges had a composite sketched of the rapists and publicized them with a description of the white vehicle which had cherry buckets in the back. Out of the blue came a tip which led to suspects and a 10-year prison sentence for one of them.

"That was solved through old fashioned police work," recalled Borges. "Back then we didn't have all the technology that police have today."

Borges recalls directing traffic the night of Jan. 11, 1991 when the Ceres Unified School District headquarters burned down.

"I've seen a lot of fires but that the biggest and hottest fire I have ever seen. I will never forget that."

Besides helping to break the gender barrier among rank and file officers, Borges will be known for helping to get the Ceres police canine program off the ground.

"Probably her forte was the canine program," said Deputy Chief Mike Borges, Dedra's brother-in-law. "She was one of he driving forces to get the canine program started along with John Souza and Ed Persike helping get donations for the car. Since then we've taken leaps and strides forward with it."

Chief Borges said the canine unit was a natural fit for Dedra and that she essentially oversaw its management. Since leaving, Sgt. Danny Vierra has taken over the canine unit which will soon have four dogs available 22 to 24 hours a day.

Her empty sergeant position was filled by John King.

Retirement for Borges - an animal lover - also means she gets to enjoy country life and spend more time helping her daughter raise dairy goats and possibly work toward training canines on the side.

Her husband is John Borges, youngest brother of the deputy chief.