Police cadets Vishal Malli and Mike Fuzie spent part of Thursday afternoon helping hand out steering wheel locks in southwest Modesto neighborhoods hit hard recently by auto thefts.
The two are among the first members of the Police Department’s new cadet program, which started about three weeks ago. The program is part of the department’s effort to recruit and keep officers instead of seeing them leave for better-paying agencies. The goal of the cadet program is for Modesto to grow its own officers.
The department has eight cadets and can have as many as 15. The other cadets are Jacob Hook, Michael Buzick, Eric Young, Brent Salyer, Ryan Smith and Mitchell Erwin. Cadets are required to have experience as a police Explorer, be 18 to 25 years old and be attending school. They work part time and earn $21,644 annually.
They work in support roles, such as helping in parking enforcement and animal control or, as was the case Thursday, helping crime prevention Officers Rosie Garcia and Stephany Valadez hand out steering wheel locks and crime prevention fliers to owners who recently had their cars stolen and recovered.
The locks and fliers went to the owners of certain types of cars targeted by thieves, such as older model Hondas and Toyotas. As they spotted more of these cars in the neighborhoods, the crime prevention officers and cadets gave the locks and fliers to those vehicle owners, too, but not before checking that the cars had not been stolen.
Malli, 20, and Fuzie, 18, say they want careers as police officers because every day on the job is different and it’s a way to help people.
Malli, who is studying business at California State University, Stanislaus, said he would be the first person in his immediate family to become an officer. He has a cousin who is an officer in the Bay Area.
Fuzie, a high school senior, grew up in the business. His dad, Chris, is a retired Modesto police lieutenant, and his mom, Cindy, is a Police Department civilian manager.