After a long and interesting law enforcement career, Deputy Jay Bennett is finally hanging up the star to spend quality time with his family. Bennett was honored by Riverbank Police Chief Erin Kiely and Mayor Richard O’Brien at the Riverbank City Council meeting of Tuesday, Feb. 24 where he was presented with a plaque and the community’s thanks for his years of service. He spent his entire law enforcement career in Riverbank – starting in October, 1978.
The oldest of three boys, along with an older sister and a younger sister, Bennett always wanted to be in law enforcement so when he was a sophomore in Hughson he learned about an Explorers Program through the Sheriff’s Department. Participants within the program had to work a certain amount of hours in the jail, with dispatch, and riding along with deputies.
“I thought this is what I want to do so from that time on, I focused my education and college towards law enforcement,” stated Bennett. “Hughson Police Department had formed just a few years before so I got on there as a reserve, probably in 1973 or ‘74.”
After that Bennett worked as a Civil Keeper for the Sherriff’s Department where they transported prisoners as well as handling a few other duties.
Finally in 1978 Bennett made his way to the Riverbank Police Department (RPD) where he was a patrol officer writing citations, responding to accidents, and DUI’s. In the mid-1980s, Bennett was promoted to sergeant. In 1995 the RPD was contracted with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department where changes arose so Bennett went back to working a beat in a patrol car, initially handling the graveyard shift.
A few years later, Bennett was making an arrest and broke his hand, which was one of several injuries that he has sustained over the past 36 years. When he returned to duty after the hand injury, a fellow deputy wanted to switch shifts so Bennett went from graveyard to day shift. This was a welcomed change for his family and wife, he said.
Bennett spent the rest of his career on the day shift doing patrols. During his career he said he enjoyed taking drunk drivers off the streets but did not enjoy giving death notifications to victim’s families. In one case, he said, he had to notify a woman that her husband had been killed in a car accident on his way home from a New Year’s Eve party.
“I hated death notifications with a passion,” stated Bennett. “A lot of people don’t see that.
“They don’t know that that happens.”
One of the highlights for Bennett, meanwhile, was arresting a subject that was wanted by the FBI.
“I would have to say for the majority of time it has been a real pleasant experience,” expressed Bennett of his law enforcement career. “This has been a good community … throughout the years we have had support from city council, support from the community itself.”
The community in turn appreciated the work, as did city officials.
“Deputy Bennett has set the standard and served as an example to generations of law enforcement officers as to what it means to be depended upon,” said Kiely. “Deputy Bennett is to be commended for his years of loyal service to the citizens of Stanislaus County."”
Bennett’s last day will be on Friday, March 20 and after that he plans to spend time with his grandkids and do some fishing that has been long overdue.
“I stayed in as long as I have because I enjoyed it,” added Bennett.
Eventually, Bennett would like to come back to the Sheriff’s Department as a reserve officer, or help out at the courthouse or maybe even do backgrounds out of the main office. Whatever is in the cards for his future, he expressed that he is not the type of person to be idle too long.
News correspondent Ric McGinnis contributed to this article.