A former Galt High School and San Joaquin Delta College football linebacker became Lodi's newest police officer Monday, though the department is still short six of its 78 officer positions.
Larry Fluty, 25, comes to Lodi with a year and a half of experience as an Amador County Sheriff's deputy, where he worked coroner and patrol duties in the small department.
"I grew up in this area and I know Lodi is a pretty tight community," Fluty said of his reasons for switching to the city's larger department.
Fluty, the middle child of seven boys, moved to Galt 20 years ago. He graduated from Galt High in 2000 and went to Delta, where he received an associate's degree in liberal arts.
He graduated from the college's police academy and went to work in Amador County, commuting from Galt. Fluty continued his schooling and hopes to finish a bachelor's degree in social science next year.
His parents, Larry and Donna, still live in the area and his girlfriend of four years pinned on his badge at Monday's brief ceremony.
Fluty will spend several months working with a training officer before patrolling solo, and he will then be on probation for a year.
The department still has six openings, including a position left last week by Officer Reba Ridino, who went to work as an investigator with the San Joaquin County District Attorney's Office.
Department recruiters are interviewing students currently attending the police academy and are considering officers from other departments, Capt. Gary Benincasa said.
Departments across the state are facing officer shortages, and Lodi recently opened a round of testing to those at the entry level who have yet to attend a police academy.
It was the first time Lodi had done such recruitment in 20 years, Benincasa said, but of about 45 people who expressed interest, only about two dozen showed up for the test.