A Lodi police officer put his half-marathon training to use when he gave chase to different suspects not once, but twice, within a few hours. Officer Kevin Kent, a member of the SWAT team, nabbed both the suspects without injury late Thursday evening and early Friday morning.
The first chase happened around 10 p.m. in the 300 block of East Lodi Avenue. Officers were looking for a parolee at large and stopped at a house to speak with 40-year-old Stockton resident Armando Alvarez, who turned out not to be the parolee they were searching for, Jacobson said.
While they were talking with Alvarez, 41-year-old John Perez came to the front door, saw the officers and ran out the back door, Jacobson said.
Perez hopped the fence in the backyard and ran into the alleyway where Kent was waiting in case anyone tried to run.
"(Perez) sees me and decides to take off running," Kent said. "I chased him down the alley, and he ducked into an apartment complex where I caught up with him."
Perez was arrested and charged with two outstanding warrants and resisting arrest.
Alvarez was also searched because he was on probation, and officers found methamphetamine, Jacobson said. Alvarez was booked on possession of a controlled substance.
The second chase started in front of a hotel in the 0 block of Main Street around 1 a.m. Friday morning.
Officers were looking for different people with parole violation warrants when a man started acting suspiciously, Jacobson said.
Police asked to talk with the man, 43-year-old Raymond Mercado, and he took off running and jumped a fence, Jacobson said.
Mercado ran into the alley where Kent was again waiting.
"He looks at me and decides to take off running until he got to Pine and Stockton, where I took him into custody," Kent said.
While searching Mercado, officers found meth, Jacobson said. Mercado was booked on possession of a controlled substance and resisting arrest.
This is not the first time Kent has had a busy night while working. His most interesting graveyard shift was when he ran after a suspect, had a vehicle pursuit and then chased down a bicycle in one night.
When he chases someone, Kent said several questions run through his head: Why are they running? Do they have weapons on them? Are there other people involved who could ambush him?
He said officers also speak into the radio to give accurate directions to other officers who can come help with the chase.
"Plus, you are running as fast as you can and dealing with the adrenaline and excitement of chasing someone," Kent said. "It can only be a minute, but it seems like a long time has passed when you are chasing the guy."
Chases have become more common lately, Kent said. He said part of the reason could be that people are spending less time in jail for resisting arrest because of strapped budgets, so the penalty is not as severe.
Because he is on the SWAT team, Kent said it is important to stay in shape so he can meet the requirements. When he's not working, Kent, a Stockton native, often trains with his wife for 5ks, 10ks and half-marathons.
His wife told him he'd done a good job when he returned home Friday morning after his shift.
"She's a big supporter," he said.
Once he catches suspects, Kent said, he is always relieved that no one got hurt.
"It's kind of going from a big high down to a drop in your adrenaline all at once," he said.