After nearly three decades in law enforcement, Terry Pinheiro has turned in his badge.
The longtime reserve – and former fulltime – officer for the Escalon Police Department retired as of Dec. 31, 2015 and a retirement dinner was hosted for him on Saturday evening at the Escalon Community Center. Tables of memorabilia, commendations, photos, newspaper clippings and more were set up around the facility, chronicling a career that has kept Pinheiro busy for years. He also currently works fulltime as an Escalon Consolidated Fire Protection District Battalion Chief, but still managed to serve as an Escalon reserve officer over the years as well.
His actual police career covered about 30 years, Pinheiro said, “with a couple of short interruptions.”
He spent most of that time with Escalon, though he worked for the sheriff’s department and also served on a countywide task force.
“Without question, Cracnet,” Pinheiro said of what he enjoyed most during his tenure with the police department, serving on the countywide drug task force.
He also said he drew immense satisfaction in “getting somebody their stuff back” when he would work on burglary cases. It was more important to return the goods, he said, than to get the arrest. Both are preferable, he added, but he would always take returning stolen property to its rightful owner.
Former Police Chief Walt Murken worked with Pinheiro as part of the department for many years as well.
“It was nice to have someone so familiar with the community and its people,” Murken said, noting that the good rapport Pinheiro established made him very effective at his job.
For the past 20 years, after he went into firefighting fulltime, Pinheiro has served as a reserve officer. He said the main changes he has seen over the years for the police department were the size of the staff and the facilities. The department is now housed in a large building on McHenry Avenue, much improved from a small Coley Avenue site. Before firefighting, he spent seven years as a fulltime police officer.
Pinheiro and his wife Cathy have three children, ranging in age from 19 to 29, a daughter and two sons.
“He has always loved being involved,” Cathy said. “He puts his heart and soul into everything he does, he always has.”
The festivities on Saturday evening included dinner and plenty of reminiscing, stories shared by current and former co-workers. One table was full of Pinheiro’s fellow firefighters, there to share in the celebration. He anticipates at least a few more years on that job before finally retiring.
Also a former member of the Escalon Community Ambulance squad, current ECA Chief Mike Pitassi said Pinheiro has shared his talents with the community and it is richer because of it.
“I think the thing I appreciate most about Terry is that his demeanor never changes, every situation, when Terry is there I know it’s under control,” Pitassi said. “He just has a steady head, all the way through, a master at his craft.”