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Police Department Shuffles Officers
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Just a month short of finishing his probationary period, officer Shane Johnson was settling in nicely to the School Resources Officer position for this school year. He had also recently returned from some specialized gang resistance training, but an injury suffered in a scuffle on the job has put him out of commission, so the police department is regrouping.

"He's looking at three months of recuperating and rehabilitation," said Escalon Police Chief Doug Dunford. "Luckily, Officer Matt Price opted to come back to day shift."

Price has resumed the School Resources Officer duties for the time being, moving in to that slot from his previous graveyard shift, with Richard Francis taking over that role.

"We did some shuffling," Dunford said of filling in the gaps. "Matt is able to step in (to the SRO role) with no problems."

He is already familiar with the schools and students, having served as the SRO before. He will take over while Johnson recovers from surgery.

Hopefully, said Dunford, Johnson will be able to come back on limited duty before he gets back in the field, and would be used then to start implementing the GREAT, Gang Resistance Education and Training, program that he went to school for prior to getting injured.

"That will be taught in the fourth and sixth grades," Dunford said of GREAT. "It's to educate the kids, gives them other options aside from getting involved in gangs."

Johnson attended a two-week training program at the GREAT West Coast headquarters in Portland, Oregon in order to put the program on locally.

Dunford said they are looking at possibly implementing that program in the schools by the end of the year, providing Johnson can come back on limited duty. After the start of the new year, he should be able to rotate back in to the SRO post and would also continue with the GREAT program.

Meanwhile, Dunford said the city has come through a particularly busy time, with calls for service up about 20 percent over the summer and early fall months.

"Part of it is due to an increase in the cities around us," he said. "And citizens are calling us on more issues, that's what we rely on."

Dunford pointed out that, in the last 45 days, there has been one robbery and two attempts in the city.

Quick action by citizens alerted police to those cases and Dunford said that helps out tremendously.

"The more the citizens call, the better for us," he said of having extra 'eyes and ears' out in the community.