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Meet the Fullerton Police Department’s three recently promoted lieutenants

Meet the Fullerton Police Department’s three recently promoted lieutenants

Meet the Fullerton Police Department’s three recently promoted lieutenants

By Greg Hardesty-Behind the Badge

One is the first female motor officer in the history of the Fullerton Police Department. 

Another loves the size and diversity of the agency. 

And the third recently promoted lieutenant at the Fullerton Police Department says being a cop is the best decision he’s ever made.

Meet Rhonda Cleggett, Mike Chocek and Thomas Oliveras Jr.

Rhonda Cleggett

Cleggett began her law enforcement career with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department in 1990 and spent three years there before transferring to the Fullerton PD. 

She has notched a few firsts in Fullerton --- and elsewhere.

At the Fullerton PD, Cleggett has worked Patrol, Field Training Officer, Motors (first and only female from the agency), SWAT operator and sniper (first at FPD, first female operator in Orange County, and first female to graduate from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department SWAT school), Investigations-General, Narcotics/Vice, Family Crimes, Sergeant-Patrol, Professional Standards Bureau and as a SWAT Crisis Negotiation Team Supervisor.

Cleggett’s current duties are weekend day watch supervisor. She also oversees the K-9 program, cadet program and scheduling. 

Cleggett has no relatives in law enforcement but lived near several officers growing up in Southern California.

“I have always respected the profession,” she says.

Cleggett also worked in the L.A. County Juvenile – Criminal Court Division, which exposed her to the intricacies of the criminal justice system. 

“As an officer, we usually tend to encounter folks at their worst and I appreciate the challenge of impacting people’s lives in a positive way and hoping that my encounters with them will somehow impact their lives and decision-making for the better,” Cleggett says.

Cleggett says she likes the FPD’s emphasis on “great customer service and trying to insure the quality of life for the community through proactive police work.”

Adds Cleggett: “This agency is more like a family. It’s small enough for everyone to know everyone, yet big enough to provide ample opportunity for growth and development within this profession.” 

Outside of work, Cleggett enjoys riding her road and mountain bikes, rock climbing, stand-up paddle boarding and traveling with her partner and 9-year-old daughter. 

Mike Chocek

Chocek has been a police officer for nearly 25 years, beginning in 1991 when he was a reserve officer.

His assignments as a police officer at the Fullerton Police Department have included Operation Clean-up, Narcotics, Field Training Officer, Patrol Sergeant, Internal Affairs and Crimes Persons. In his new position, Chocek supervises patrol functions on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Chocek says one of the most enjoyable things about being a cop is the “opportunity to work different jobs while staying in the same career.” And he enjoys the size and diversity of the Fullerton PD.

Thomas Oliveras Jr.

Oliveras was in his mid-20s when he decided to pursue a career in law enforcement.

“I quickly knew what I wanted to do after going on several ride-alongs with a friend,” Oliveras says. 

He hasn’t looked back since.

Oliveras has been a police officer for about 22 years --- all with the Fullerton PD.

“My career has been quite exciting, rewarding and humbling,” he says.

Oliveras started as a patrol officer and has worked several assignments in all divisions of the police department, including DARE Officer, SWAT Officer, Detective- General Investigation, Detective CIU (Crime Impact Unit), Detective-Narcotics Unit, Patrol Sergeant, Sergeant-Supervisor DET (Directed Enforcement Team) Sergeant/ Detective.

“Most of the units I’ve worked and supervised have been in plain clothes or in an undercover capacity and have involved surveillance, investigating career criminals and sensitive cases,” Oliveras says.

“Being able to share my experience and teach younger officers has been a definite career highlight for me,” he adds.

Oliveras currently works Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 2:30 p.m. until 3 a.m. 

As a lieutenant, he serves as Watch Commander and supervises an entire shift, which includes patrol sergeants, patrol officers, dispatch, jail personnel and desk personnel.

He also is the Field Training Officer manager and coordinator, overseeing all new police officer trainees and lateral police officers while they are in the Field Training Officer program. Each new officer has to complete at least 12 to 16 weeks of intense training while being assigned to an FTO before they can perform patrol functions on their own. 

“I look forward to leading our organization into the future and being a part of the decision-making process, which will help us to be a model police department,” he says. “I thrive on providing new and innovative ideas to help us better do our job.”

Oliveras, who is married with four children, loves outdoor activities such as camping, hiking and traveling, and is a die-hard Denver Broncos fan. 

“Being a police officer has allowed me to be a part of a special profession,” Oliveras says. “The idea of being part of a team and making a difference in people’s lives has never changed.”

He adds: “I still love coming to work every day and I still have the same amount of excitement for the job as I did when I started. I cannot see myself doing anything else as rewarding as police work.”

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