By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
24 Years - Glinskas Closes City Career
A big bear of a man in appearance but always kind by nature, Mike Glinskas had served Riverbank as a police officer for 24 years when he recently transferred to the civil division of the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department in Modesto where he serves court orders, subpoenas, eviction notices and so forth.

"I'm off patrol. I get weekends and holidays off work. I can spend more time with my wife, my sweetheart. She's still my girlfriend." he said, acknowledging he was teary-eyed when he announced his departure at a recent Riverbank City Council meeting.

Glinskas began work in Riverbank in 1988 when it had a police department and he served as a detective, a school resource officer and in the crimes against children division besides on patrol. Later he became a traffic officer when the Sheriff's Department took over policing of the city.

"I was in the military before that, three years in the Army and four years in the Air Force. I was stationed at Castle Air Force Base when I read something in the newspaper about Riverbank needing cops ... I grew up in southern California. I knew nothing about this area."

But he applied and started work as a reserve officer while still in the military. He met his wife to be Marilyn when he volunteered to teach CPR and first aid for the Red Cross in Turlock.

"Always volunteer," he advised.

Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department took over from the local police on Aug.15 of 1995. Some dates you remember, he said. He and Dave Sanson worked the last shift. They went on duty that night as city police officers and finished the shift the next day as sheriff's deputies.

"Ray Bennett and I are the only original city cops left," he said. "Although Mark Copeland came back later."

Riverbank in those days was much smaller in size and population than today. It was quiet at night.

There was just one set of traffic lights in town, at Oakdale and Patterson roads and only one store, Stop 'N Save' that stayed open 24 hours.

"There was no AM PM, no Chevron. The Shell station closed at 10 p.m. We didn't often go west of Jackson. There were few houses beyond, except the rich people in River Heights," Glinskas said. "To get a soda or snacks at night, we had to drive to Modesto or go to Shop 'N Save. Crawford Road was all barns and farmland. We didn't go to Claribel."

The total police force in those days numbered seven or eight officers and usually only one was on patrol during the graveyard shift.

Then the city got a McDonald's at Oakdale and Patterson.

"With both a stop light and a McDonald's," Glinskas said, he reckoned he belonged to a real city.

The rivalry with neighboring Oakdale went on as usual. Oakdale had the hotels and the development but Riverbank was catching up in growth. Both cities made glaring mistakes in development, he noted.

"Riverbank turned down Hershey's (which wanted to come here for the railroad spurs). But Oakdale turned down Crossroads (which brought Riverbank huge sales tax revenues from its shopping center)."

Becoming a traffic officer, Glinskas began to write grant applications, won his first DUI grant in 1992 and since then estimates he's brought the city $80,000 to $100,000 a year in traffic grants and maybe $1 million during his career here.

He is proud of his close relationships with the citizens. He spent most his time outside the office and established friendships which helped him in solving crimes.

He especially remembers a shooting near some apartments at the Stanislaus and Jackson Avenue area when he was able to trace the gunman because he was friendly with the manager. She didn't officially approach the police - she feared she was in trouble - but told him privately she had sold a gun to a suspect and not only kept a record of his name and vehicle's license plate number but some of the spare ammunition for the gun. Ballistic tests did the rest and the suspect was convicted.

As traffic officer, Glinskas also became skilled in interpreting crashes. When a pedestrian was killed crossing Atchison Street near First Street several years ago, he got the help of a California Highway Patrol expert in investigating the accident and learned a lot about fatal crash investigations. He also helped investigate the fatal accident opposite O'Brien's Market when a middle-aged couple was turning left into the market from Highway 108. That crash led Caltrans to raise median barriers on Highway 108 to prevent left-hand turns.

There are far fewer fatal and injury crashes in Riverbank nowadays, he noted, and he thinks traffic improvement grants and stricter traffic enforcement have a lot to do with that.

Glinskas said he loves working with children and several years considered leaving law enforcement to become a teacher. He even went back to college to get his teaching credential and taught at California Avenue School. He also instructed in robotics at Enochs High School when his daughter Julianna was enrolled there. He still has the qualifications to be a substitute teacher but dropped the idea of switching to fulltime teaching because it would negatively affect his retirement pay as a police officer. For now, he plans to continue working with the Sheriff's Department in the civil division for another five years or so.