By Yanira Ledezma
Three new officers in the Merced Police Department, along with a new addition to the K9 unit, were sworn in by Chief Christopher Goodwin last Friday, July 5, at the Merced Civic Center.
Officers Matthew Calicago, Justin James Saldivar, and Jennifer Shaw recited their oaths and became members of a department that is now considered fully staffed.
They also shared some memories and inspirations behind their career decision.
“Something about Merced really attracted me to the department,” Calicago said. “I knew this was the place I wanted to be. It was the only place I applied to during the academy, and apparently they liked me enough to want to hire me.”
He also thanked his sister and mother for always pushing and believing in him.
Calicago, 26, is a Los Banos native who received top honors while in the police academy. Calicago has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and enjoys spending time with family, cooking, and working out.
Officer Saldivar is a 28-year-old Fresno native with an associates degree in criminology and a bachelor’s degree in business management. He serves as a football coach in his spare time and enjoys watching movies with his fiancé and two children.
“I was always interested in law enforcement, even as a kid,” he said. “I used to come home from kindergarten and watch the show Cops on TV.”
Saldivar said he fell in love with the department while on his first patrol ride-along. “I remember coming home and telling my fiancé how much of a good time I had.”
He thanked his fiancé, mom, brother, and his late father.
Officer Shaw, 32, is an Atwater native with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Shaw previously worked as a probation officer, K9 officer, and also received an award for saving a life. During her spare time, she can be found at the gym or spending quality time with her son and daughter.
“I wanted to come into this department and be a cop,” she said. “I couldn’t have done it without Saldivar, Calicago, and Officer Flores. I’m appreciative to Chief Goodwin for giving us the chance to sit here and serve our community.”
Shaw also noted the immense support she received from the department on her journey in becoming an officer.
Stas, the new K9 member, showed her dedication to the department by stamping her paw soon after Chief Goodwill recited her oath aloud.
Stas is a 16-month-old German Shepherd-Belgian Malines mix that is being trained in handler protection, apprehension, and detection of firearms.
Stas was named after the late Deputy Sheriff Mark Stasyuk who was killed while on duty in Sacramento last year. Being a close friend of Stasyuk, Officer Prevostini, Stas’s handler, made the decision of honoring Stasyuk by passing down his nickname.
“Stas was his nickname, everyone could not pronounce his name — Stasyuk — so everyone called him Stas. As soon as I got word that I was going to be the new canine handler, that name immediately popped up halfway through my conversation with my sergeant,” Prevostini recalled.
The ceremony, which took place in the early afternoon, was held in the Council Chambers and saw family, friends, and community members welcome the newest additions to the Police Department.
The City of Merced also announced the addition of a fourth new officer, Steven Floratos, who was not present at Friday’s ceremony. Floratos, 27, is a Fresno native, who earned a number of awards during his five years in the U.S. Army. Prior to entering the Army, he attended college while working part-time. In his spare time, he enjoys playing softball, but mostly spending time with his wife, Sandra, and young daughter, Reagan.
The Department has now filled all 98 positions in its budget, although four of those are in the classification of police officer trainee.
“I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, although we are six months to a year from being fully staffed and fully trained,” Chief Goodwin said.