Advice on Safety from a Police Sergeant

One day, Mike went into his commando mode when we saw a guy sitting in his car, across the street from our house, staring at the elementary school down the street.  We thought we’d caught a pedophile.  I tell the rest of the story below.  Speaking with Freddy reminded me of that day and the importance of calling the police.

Keeping our Streets Safe and Our Bodies Fit with Sgt. Freddy Camacho

Want to know the Best ways to protect your home and family?  I asked Sgt. Freddy Camacho police officer of 16 years, for his advice.  Listen to what Freddy does to keep his own home safe in our conversation here.

Union City Police Sergeant Freddy Camacho has worn a lot of hats.  I was interested to learn how he went from Butcher and Mechanic, to Police Officer, Gym Owner, and competitive Athlete.  Freddy is unique because he grew up in the East Bay and lives and works here in Union City.  He is active socially with our community, through his personal outreach as well as UCPD’s Facebook Page.  Currently the unit supervisor for Community Oriented Policing & Problem Solving (COPPS) Unit.  He was on the SWAT Tactical Team and is now Unit Leader of the SWAT Sniper Team.

Ever seen the CrossFit Games on ESPN?  In the first ever CrossFit Games 10 years ago Freddy finished in 11th place at 41 years old.  He went on to compete on a nationwide level 7 times.  His wife Chyna Cho was the highest placing American female in the 2015 CrossFit games, the fittest woman in America. Talk about a power couple.  Together, they are co-owners of CrossFit of Fremont.  Freddy is a Level Two Krav Maga instructor and has won gold medals in boxing in both the California Police and Fire Games and the World Police and Fire Games. We talk about his start as an athlete wrestling at both Moreau Catholic High School and at Chabot College

What inspires you to compete in Athletic competitions past the age of 50 years old? What kind of drive and skill set would you need to run a business and serve in the Union City Police Department.  Freddy is driven, talented, and committed.  He’s also a good storyteller.  As a police officer he doesn’t gloss over the most important questions.
What advice would you give our residents to keep safe? What is the one thing that can help neighborhood watches be effective?

“Don’t be afraid to call the police. If something seems suspicious call. Hey you know what if your wrong and it turns out you’re wrong, it’s some guy waiting for his mom and dad to get home or something, No Harm No Foul right? Don’t be afraid to bother us because you’re not bothering us at all.” -Sgt Freddy Camacho

In our interview I mentioned an incident, about a year ago.  Mike and I saw a guy sitting in his car, looking suspicious, and we ended up calling the police.  I want to share the whole story with you.
It started in the afternoon the day before.  My man, Mike DeLaO, saw a guy sitting in his car across the street from our house.  The car was old, and full of stuff, as if he lived in it.  A few hours went by and he didn’t leave.  Alarm bells were going off for us because we live 2 blocks from Our Lady of the Rosary, Church and School.  A lot of kids pass by our house going to and from school.  That one point he got out of the car and stretched, I saw his pants were unbuttoned.

So Mike goes over and knocked on the car window.  The guy didn’t want to roll down his window.  Mike asked him (through the window) if he was lost or something.  Mike was nice about it, but he is a big guy.  I wouldn’t advise just any resident to approach the car like Mike did.  Like Sgt. Comacho says “Call the police.”

Mike told the guy to drive off or he would call the police.  The guy drove off.

Big Mike has lived in Union City his whole life.  His mother and grandfather both lived in and grew up in Decoto.  His Father grew up in Alvarado.  When Mike was young they lived the Town Estates Area.  Just like Sgt. Freddy Camacho’s advice in our interview, Mike knows the neighbors.  Even more than that he know the kids of our neighborhood and make an effort to be a positive mentor to them.

So after the guy had driven off, when the neighborhood middle school boys rode by on bikes, Mike flagged them down and told them about the guy.  He asked them to keep an eye out.  Later that same day the kids came by our house and said they had seen him near a different school but he had left already.

The next morning a neighbor of ours from the opposite end of our block came by and told Mike she had seen the same suspicious guy lurking near a different school, Decoto School, she was scared.  Mike got in his Truck and drove around for a while looking for the guy he didn’t see him.  We left to take a load of junk to the dump.  On our way back we spotted him and Mike followed his care until he parked again on other side of OLR school.  We parked far enough away that he couldn’t see us but we could see him.  That’s when Mike said, “Ok I think this guy is a predator.”   We called the police.

Now the police didn’t arrive right away so we called back.  The dispatch was very clear that it would be a while before the cops could come.  There are only so many patrol out at a time.  This was mid morning on a weekday.  So we waited.  Then he decided to move again, even closer to the school.  We continued to follow him.  Mike was frustrated with what dispatch was telling us, he didn’t want to leave until the cops arrived and risk losing the guy.  He called the Union City Police Station to talk Audrey, someone he knew at the police department.  She told us it could be another 15 minutes.  The guy started driving again and Audrey told us follow at a safe distance so we could tell the cops what block he was on when they came.

When the cops arrived we were still there and we were able to tell them his exact location so they could approach.  We watched from a distance when they approached car.

After officers approached the car several times the guy would not open his window or get out of the car.  He was talking to them through the car window.  At one point they asked us move because we were in the line of fire.  They set up a perimeter with several patrol cars around.
After repeated attempts to get him out of the car he still  wasn’t complying.  It was a hot day and it had to be an oven in that car by then.  Officer Yeager came and told to us stay back, the guy indicated he had a knife in the car.  They were getting ready to take measures.  But seconds before they were going to force their way into the car, he finally surrendered.   They searched the car and Officer Yeager later told us that they found a suicide note in the car with his weapon.  His mother lived around the corner from OLR school and already had a restraining order against him.  He was suffering from mental illness and had been violent in the past.
I feel this story illustrates better than anything what Sgt. Camacho is saying, Call the Police, don’t hesitate.  Just in retelling here I shudder to think what could have happened to his mother or bystanders or himself had we not called.

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