Pleasanton Weekly

News - January 12, 2007

Police officer, employees honored for service

"Face of the police department" Angie Calija retires after 33 years

by Emily Atwood

Officer Joe Leonardo was named 2006 Officer of the Year by his peers in the Pleasanton Police Department. Joining the force in August 1989, Leonardo currently serves as a patrol officer, leader of the SWAT team and Explorer Program coordinator.

Police Chief Tim Neal said Leonardo is a formal and informal leader in the department. He is known for his tremendous work ethic and friendliness and others often come to him for advice and counsel.

Neal, who has received the award in the past, called the honor a "rare distinction."

"For anyone to be singled out among so many is an honor," he said. "It's one of 87 officers in this case, but it may as well be one of 1,000."

One of two co-recipients of the 2006 Non-Sworn Employee of the Year was Animal Services Officer Roy Ficken. Ficken has worked in the department since 1983 and has built a reputation as a team player. Though his primary responsibility is in Animal Services, he can be found all over town.

"You find Roy everywhere," Neal said. "Downtown on First Wednesday, in schools with his K-9 partner and companion Gandalf, in our Citizens Academy ... everywhere."

Most recently he even helped count cars and keep statistics at the DUI checkpoint. Neal even recalled Ficken's request of a bee suit to help residents safely get rid of nests without paying large fees to professional bee keepers. With Ficken's urging, the department was also one of the first to equip animal services officers with tranquilizer guns.

Neal said Ficken is an advocate for animals who has a "no-nonsense approach" to those who neglect their pets.

"If a dog is man's best friend, then Roy is a dog's best friend," he said.

Typically the department only chooses one recipient for each award, but a special exception was made for most-senior employee Angie Calija.

Often referred to as the "face of the police department," Calija began working with the force at the age of 21. Since then, she's worn many hats: meter maid, office assistant, police assistant, parking control officer and interim dispatcher.

Her title as of 1988 is Community Services Officer (CSO)--a job filled by some of the hardest workers in the force, according to Neal. CSOs respond to all accidents and take reports if there are no injuries, direct traffic and tend to the injured. They also serve crime scene investigators with such tasks as gathering DNA and gunshot residue. Like the popular TV show characters on "CSI," Pleasanton's CSOs are equipped with state-of-the-art technology like laser and ultra-violet fingerprint detection equipment.

Calija's honor came just in time, as Tuesday marked her 55th birthday and her last day of work before retiring. A police motorcade escorted her to the department that morning, where she was greeted with applause, hugs and a serenade of "Happy Birthday."

Perhaps the most moving tribute to her service is the volume of commendations and thank you letters received from her 33 years of service.

"Certainly [she has] the most thank you letters I have ever seen in a police employee's personnel file," Neal said. "She is one incredible professional--and one kind and caring human being. We will never have another Angie Calija."


Posted by DCT, a resident of another community
on Mar 2, 2009 at 6:03 pm

Congratulations to Angie Calija! We're very Proud of You!!! D.C. & C. Teczon

Posted by unclehomerr.., a resident of Downtown
on Mar 2, 2009 at 10:56 pm

News - Friday, January 12, 2007.

Can anyone explain how this 2006 award, reported in 2007, appears at the top of the forum in 2009???


If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: *

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields