default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
Logout|My Dashboard

Lodi police have a quiet Christmas

Watch commander gets a rare chance to patrol city on silent morning

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Thursday, December 26, 2013 12:00 am

’Twas the morning for presents

And Christmas Day cheer,

But for Lodi police officers,

Crime was still near


Sgt. Eric Versteeg cruised 

Through the streets,

When he spotted a man

Well-known on his beat.


In his hands were festive bags,

Covered with Santa’s face,

But when he saw Sgt. Versteeg,

He ran like he was trying to steal third base.


Over fences and through yards,

He managed to get away.

But at the scene he left the presents,

Which Versteeg loaded into his sleigh. 

Christmas was a relatively quiet day for Sgt. Eric Versteeg and the small handful of Lodi police officers on duty Christmas Day. So quiet, in fact, he could cruise the streets like he was back on patrol.

The daily duties for the Lodi watch commander, who has been with the force since 2006, cover many aspects of the department.

Versteeg and several other watch commanders oversee the patrol division, dispatch, jail and more. They’re the intermediaries between the patrol and investigation divisions. They’re often responsible for speaking with the news media in the event of a crime.

And they also help shape the future of the department by mentoring young officers.

Versteeg describes his position in the department as somewhere between management and patrol.

“There can be so much going on at once,” he said.

Christmas, though, can be a rare slow day for a watch commander.

So for Versteeg, Wednesday was an opportunity to drive around town, making sure everything was as it should be. He kept an eye out for people with warrants he might recognize, and watched for anything that looked suspicious.

It’s the part of his job from his days as a patrol officer that he misses the most.

“It’s nice to do this again,” Versteeg said inside his patrol car as he canvassed neighborhoods throughout Lodi.

Little time had passed when Versteeg spotted a man he said was well-known within the department.

Versteeg said the man has an outstanding warrant. Last week, he ran from Lodi police officers and got away.

And according to department records, he’s been arrested 40 times in Lodi alone, Versteeg said.

Versteeg saw him walking near Hale Park around 10 a.m., with a hood over his head and two Christmas-themed bags in each hand. Versteeg turned his patrol car around and drove toward the man, who was walking across the street with his head down, paying no mind to the oncoming officer.

But when Versteeg pulled alongside and honked his horn, the man dropped his bags and ran.

He hopped several fences and escaped after a brief chase through nearby yards.

Versteeg returned to the scene, collect the bags and looked inside.

The wanted man’s Christmas day tidings included a blanket and bundle of copper wire.

The run-in was out of the ordinary for the holiday. Disputes between family members are typically the most common calls police respond to on Christmas Day, Versteeg said.

Wednesday continued like any other for Versteeg and the other officers on duty. However, officers are still investigating one crime from early Christmas morning.

Around 5:30 a.m., just before Versteeg went on duty, at least one suspect broke a window near the entrance of Target, located at 2355 W. Kettleman Lane. The suspect rushed to the back of the store, grabbed several electronic devices and fled through a back door, Versteeg said.

Police are investigating whether the burglar is connected to another burglary at a Target in Stockton earlier that morning.

“I don’t know if it was last minute Christmas shopping,” Versteeg said.

Contact reporter Kristopher Anderson at krisa@lodinews.com.

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don't pretend you're someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don't threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don't insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.

Welcome to the discussion.


Popular Stories


Should graduations return to the Grape Bowl?

Lodi Unified leaders are moving Lodi and Tokay high school graduations from the Grape Bowl to the Spanos Center at UOP in Stockton. They cite limited seating, costs and unpredictable weather at the Grape Bowl. But others say graduations at the Grape Bowl are an important Lodi tradition, and one reason many supported renovating the stadium. What do you think?

Total Votes: 85


Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists