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Programs & Services

Modesto's Reserve Officer Unit



Within the minutes of a Modesto City Council meeting dated March 7, 1956, City Attorney Allan Grimes expressed concern over the City’s Police Reserve Program. He indicated that it had no legal basis for existing. A search of past records had been made, and no indication could be found that the City Council had ever taken any formal action to establish such a program. The City Attorney then submitted to the Council an ordinance designed to properly address and correct the omission. The proposed ordinance was successfully adopted (ORD. 76-C.S.), and the Modesto Police Reserve Unit was formally established on April 5, 1956.

Prior to this ordinance, the informally organized Police Reserve Unit came into existence in the latter half of 1941. The original Unit was organized by retired Modesto hardware store owner Albert Pederson. It consisted entirely of members of the local chapter of the American Legion. This unit was organized to address two immediate civic concerns: the lack of adequate police protection at local football games and consensus within the community that the Nation was rapidly approaching war and needed to establish a Civil Defense Unit. The American Legion Police Reserve Unit met these needs, but due to the failure of the City Council to enact the necessary legislation, it never became a lawfully constituted Police Unit in spite of its years of service.

The oldest paper document on file relating to the Police Reserve Unit was authored by Albert L. Pederson. Mr. Pederson was the first Reserve Captain of the Unit. Beginning in 1941, the Unit went under the name of “Legion Auxiliary Police”. Please click on the following link January 26, 1945 to view the oldest reserve unit letter.

The only other Reserve Police Officer to reach the rank of Captain was Mel Thomas. Mr. Thomas was sworn in as a Reserve Police Officer on February 3, 1973. During his dedicated 30 years with the Modesto Police Department, Mr. Thomas was trusted with assignments and details unheard of in the ranks of reserve officers. Mr. Thomas participated in regular patrol duties, became the first reserve officer to be assigned to the traffic division’s motor unit, transported prisoners long distances in his personally owned Cessna 182, and acted as the Department’s Chaplain where he not only married many colleagues, but also buried them.

For further information about the Reserve Unit, contact Sergeant Robert Stewart at (209) 572-9500 voice mail #24207 or e-mail.


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