History of the Ceres Police Department

On February 25, 1918, the City of Ceres was incorporated and in August of the same year, the City Council voted to hire its first official Marshall, T. F. Perrin, at a monthly salary of $5.00.

By 1934, the Police Department had expanded and was in need of a Chief of Police. Jack Dillon was hired and served in this position for eight years.

Over the next 14 years, Ceres would have six Chiefs who led the Department, including Chief Foster and Chief Triplett.

In 1956, LeRoy Cunningham was appointed Chief and served until 1983. To date, Cunningham is the longest serving Police Chief in Stanislaus County history. Chief Cunningham made several changes through the years, such as purchasing police vehicles and the use of one-way radios for officers and clerk-dispatchers.

Pete Peterson followed Chief Cunningham as Chief in 1983 and it was under his leadership that the Department was modernized, including our current two story police facility, with state-of-the-art technology that still stands today. Chief Peterson also developed many of our special units, such as: K-9, Traffic and SWAT. Peterson served until 1999.

From 1999 to 2014, the Department was led by Art de Werk. It was during Chief de Werk’s tenure that the Department suffered its only Line-of-Duty Death when Sgt. Howie Stevenson was shot and killed on January 9, 2005.

In 2015, Brent Smith was appointed Chief. Since being appointed, Chief Smith has reorganized the department based on the needs of the city and officers. Chief Smith began exploring new police technology and how it can benefit the citizens and officers. This exploration led to the construction of a new Dispatch Center on the top floor of the police facility, along with a new and improved Computer-Automated-Dispatch software system.

The Department currently has 48 full time Officers and serves a population of over 48,000 people.