Two new Lodi police officers were sworn in Tuesday, courtesy of a federal stimulus grant.
Both officers, who have nearly seven years of law enforcement experience between them, are the first officers Lodi has hired in 16 months.
Kevin Brown and Michael Mantzouranis bring the force to 71 sworn officers, said Capt. Gary Benincasa. The department has frozen seven other positions to avoid layoffs, as well as seven civilian positions.
The officers, both former Sacramento County Sheriff's deputies, received their badges Tuesday during a ceremony that concluded with an oath of office administered by Judge David P. Warner.
The positions are funded partially through a federal grant secured by Sen. Barbara Boxer, which she announced in September at a ceremony with four San Joaquin County law enforcement departments. Federal money pays most of the first three years of salary, with the departments agreeing to pay the fourth year.
By then, the departments hope the economy will have turned around. Additionally, other officers will have retired by that point.
Brown, 30, has a wife and three children, so it was not good news when Sacramento County laid him off after a year-and-a-half on the job. He then spent the rest of the year working as an on-call deputy, meaning that he did make a living but had no benefits.
He had attended Sacramento and Elk Grove high schools, then went to Cosumnes River College. He'd looked into Lodi's police force and even went on a ride-along, but then Sacramento offered him a job.
A sports fan who has also worked in youth ministries, Brown said he's always liked Lodi.
Mantzouranis, 29, spent the past five years working in Sacramento. He was not among the many laid off by the sheriff's department, but he said he jumped at the chance when he saw an opening with Lodi's police department.
He attended elementary schools in Lodi, graduated from Galt High School and was married at Bethel Open Bible Church, so he knows the community well.
He went to San Joaquin Delta College and was halfway through the police academy when Sacramento County offered him a job, which included their own paid academy.
He and his wife have two children.
Both officers will go through a probationary period, which includes working with a field training officer to learn Lodi's procedures and geography.