Drugs, handcuffs, arrests: Danville proves to be anything but quiet

Reporter sees action on police ride-along

When I was told that I would be riding along in a patrol car of the Danville Police Department, I expected to watch traffic stops and cell phone violations, which would have been satisfying enough. Instead, I was lucky to experience what Danville officers consider a busy day.

As soon as I arrived at the Police Department late Wednesday, Sgt. Jack Seidman informed me that I would be riding with Officer of the Quarter, Tony Maldonado, to take someone who was in custody to the County Jail in Martinez. The last time I took a trip to the jail was for a third-grade field trip and luckily I hadn't been back since.

In the patrol car, a crackle of a radio sounded and Maldonado explained that Danville is on the same channel as San Ramon, the Valley Station, and part of Martinez. He said that it's good to hear what is going on in the area.

The young man in custody sat in the back seat sporting a T-shirt with the word "Hustler" written across the chest. The young man was arrested in Danville for possession of narcotics, specifically oxycontin, a form of heroin. He seemed to be familiar with the drive to the jail and later Maldonado told me that he had been arrested before.

"We familiarize ourselves with people and know who the troublemakers are," Maldonado said.

Before entering the jail, Maldonado told me that he is required to remove his weapons for safety reasons.

While the individual sat glumly on a bench waiting, Maldonado motioned for me to come over. He pointed to an officer scraping white powder into a bag. I was informed that the white power was methamphetamine that an individual had in his possession. Apparently the suspect had stored it in a place where the sun doesn't shine, hoping to not get caught with it.

Inside the jail, I was able to see the booking process for the individual, including his mug shots, and I witnessed the individual's attitude change from tough guy to guilty suspect.

"Danville kids think they're gangsters and then they come [to jail and meet real ones," Maldonado said.

On the way back to Danville, I was curious about the laptop that sat in the middle of the car. Maldonado said that every patrol vehicle has one and it is used for communication. It also has the capability to scan license plate numbers; Maldonado even let me run a plate!

"You never know if that car right there may be stolen," he said.

The car was a gold Mercedes that belonged to an older woman and, not surprisingly, the record was clean.

Back in Danville, I was expecting to witness Maldonado pull over speeders and cell phone abusers. Instead, the night became even more suspenseful.

We drove past a house that Maldonado said he needed to keep an eye on. He was expecting a car to be in the driveway but unfortunately it wasn't there when we drove by.

After patrolling the area once, we passed the house again and the car was there.

"That's the car," Maldonado said matter-of-factly. It was a normal-looking white Toyota Yaris, with two females in it.

My heart raced and I experienced the rush that Maldonado had said he got from being a police officer. Maldonado called his partner, Officer Mike Ireland, who was driving the K-9 vehicle. The exchanges between the two officers were strategic and straight to the point.

"Find a reason to pull her over," Ireland said.

Maldonado backed up strategically into a side street where he could see the vehicle if it happened to drive by. Ireland was on the other side of the house, with a direct view of the car. While we waited for something to happen, we watched the drivers use their cell phones and saw the vehicles speed past us.

"I'd rather make an arrest than give a $35 ticket," Maldonado explained.

We waited for Ireland to update us about movement. The officers were determined to pull the driver over and find a reason to search her. She was suspected to have drugs; someone from the community had given the department the tip.

Maldonado explained that it's very helpful when residents give information because the police learn things they wouldn't normally come across.

"I'd like to say police work is skill but a lot of it is luck," Maldonado said.

Officer Ireland called and informed us that the two suspects were approaching the vehicle. It turned out to be a false alarm but it kept Maldonado (and me) alert. Maldonado said that every day brings something different.

"My goal for the day is to go home in one piece," he said.

Ireland called again and this time it was the real deal. One of the females was only re-parking the car but Ireland was able to pull her over because he knew she had a revoked license. It gave Ireland and Maldonado a reason to further investigate the situation.

Both officers got out of their vehicles and I was left alone with my thoughts. My heart raced and I had a good feeling something exciting would happen.

Outside, the two women were questioned by the officers. Both females seemed to force confused and innocent looks. They were patted down and one of the females covered her eyes. At first, I thought she was upset. Instead, I observed that she was blocking out sunlight so Ireland could inspect her pupils to determine whether she was under the influence.

I couldn't tell what the verdict was but Maldonado came back to the car and re-parked it behind the K-9 vehicle. He informed me that both the females were under the influence. Ireland opened the door to his car and the canine named Donna was let out to further explore with her sharp nose.

Meanwhile, I observed that cars passing by slowed and heads were turned away from the road in hopes of getting a glance at what was going on. I relished the fact that I had front row seats to the state of affairs.

Ireland led one of the females in handcuffs to the vehicle I was sitting in. She was put in the backseat and the door was shut. It was just me and the suspect.

In the meantime, the other woman was further questioned and I noticed her body language was aggressive. She was also handcuffed and led to the vehicle I sat in. I was told to get out of the vehicle and I stood on the sidewalk where the females had once been. On the hood of the K-9 vehicle, there were pill boxes, bags and cans that Donna must have found. The women were arrested for possession of narcotics.

"It's not like this all the time," Maldonado said.

Sgt. Seidman had showed up and informed me that my night of entertainment was over. The females were taken to the County Jail.

The next day, Maldonado provided me with follow-up information. He informed me that the aggressive female had been strip searched and a half-ounce of methamphetamine was found in her "private area."

Maldonado said he was just glad to get more dope off the streets.

"It's been very productive for us, which is a good thing," he said.

Officer Maldonado has been in the force for a total of 11 years. He's worked in Richmond, Martinez and Danville.

"I bounce around a lot," he said.

Since the beginning of the quarter, Maldonado has worked the swing shift from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m., Monday through Thursday. He feels proud to be part of the department and is delighted when people acknowledge him.

"It's rewarding to be noticed," he said.

Residents of the San Ramon Valley must remember that shenanigans occur even in the "Valley bubble" just as they do everywhere else. The police work to prevent mischief.

"We get in the car and it's game time," Maldonado said.

Sgt. Seidman said that police officers are just normal guys with no big egos -- but they take their job seriously.


Like this comment
Posted by john tanner
a resident of Danville
on Aug 1, 2011 at 7:45 am

Time to give up on the drug war. Better to be honest and educate then to create silly action heroes arresting boys and girls with drugs up their cracks.

Like this comment
Posted by Lili
a resident of Alamo
on Aug 1, 2011 at 7:53 am

"Danville kids think they're gangsters and then they come [to jail] and meet real ones," Maldonado said.

Best line of the story. How many times do you see these dumb punks in nice cars with music blasting & their hats worn backward, and wish they'd get a flat tire in West Oakland and see how tough they act there?

Like this comment
Posted by Sally
a resident of San Ramon Valley High School
on Aug 1, 2011 at 11:24 am

John - that is a crazy thing to say. Who are you going to "educate?" The kids buying the drugs or the ones looking to make big money by selling it? And "silly action heroes?" You should be ashamed. These are police officers that risk their lives every day for us. Yes, the San Ramon Valley is quiet, but things happen. Better to say thank you and show our appreciation for the work they are doing at keeping our valley safe and uneventful!

Like this comment
Posted by collins
a resident of Vista Grande Elementary School
on Aug 1, 2011 at 11:36 am

Interesting article. There is an error I would like to point out. Oxycontin is a prescription pain killer. It is NOT a form of Heroin. When people abuse the drug, it can be as addicting as Heroin. Heroin is not legal in any form in the US.

Like this comment
Posted by j
a resident of Danville
on Aug 1, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Kudos to the police officers that risk their lives out there daily...even in Danville.

Like this comment
Posted by Derek
a resident of Danville
on Aug 1, 2011 at 2:01 pm

I smell a reality TV show here (and God knows we can never have too many of them....).
We can call it "Danville punk meets the Homies".
I'm betting it will score better ratings than these idiotic musical shows.
Thanks for the fun read Amelia.

Like this comment
Posted by Shiela
a resident of Danville
on Aug 1, 2011 at 3:06 pm

I'm extremely happy that our more seasoned officers, Officer Maldonado have examples of great work accomplished in the Town of Danville. But all too often, the officers working are young and inexperienced and make stupid gaffes pissing of the locals of Mayberry! Danville is not a training ground for new recruits to issue stupid tickets, i.e camping out in front of the SRV at 5 am Sunday morning accusing someone of drinking and issuing a speeding ticket for 42 mph in a zone changing from 35 to 25 mph. Cheap shot.

And Officer Maldonado, and I'm not aware of ANY ticket being $35, maybe a parking ticket. This may explain why folks are so pissed when they get a simple ticket that you think is $35 and is closer to $250, plus traffic school and possible a point with increased car insurance.

I support fighting crime but not potentially generating revenue by issuing unreasonable tickets. Kudos for putting your life on the line to protect us public, bummer for pissing of the good community you support with stupid tickets when there are so many great opportunies to issue legit ones. I want to support our local crime fighter's but I'm so pissed right now, I've got no luv for the PoPo!

Like this comment
Posted by Penny
a resident of Danville
on Aug 2, 2011 at 10:05 am

Shiela, if it's illegal, you're accountable for it, even if it's speeding. I, for one, am glad that our officers have time to ticket in school zones because that means my kids are that much safer from reckless, speeding drivers on their cell phones.

Like this comment
Posted by Local and Happy
a resident of Alamo
on Aug 3, 2011 at 8:50 am

hahah - try not to let the door hit you on the way out! Maybe in Texas you can learn to spell...

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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