“A police officer will arrest people when they don’t need to be arrested,” said a homeless man living near a park on Modesto’s troubled West Side, “but a cop only arrests people when they should be arrested. Mike Hammond is a cop and he’s a good cop.”
Hammond’s name comes up a lot among homeless people and he’s something of a legend on the West Side, where he once received an award for exemplary service.
“Yeah, I been busted by Hammond and every time I had it coming,” is a common remark among people whose encounters with the police tend to be far more frequent than average. Among the homeless, Hammond is the rare cop who’s as often as not welcomed with a smile — sometimes even with sighs of relief.
Like any other sector of society, the vast majority of homeless people don’t like thieves, bullies, and sexual predators. Among their inviolable rules, “snitching” may be the most grievous sin. One result of the commandment not to tell is the need for a cop who knows them and works to achieve justice for all. Hammond has won trust because he understands the spirit of the law, and especially understands it among poor people who ordinarily settle things among themselves, not always to anyone’s satisfaction.
“I try to respect everybody,” he says, when explaining his success with people who dislike cops. “When I have to arrest someone I always explain it’s not personal, but I also make sure they know I will do my duty to enforce the law.”
March 29, almost on the twentieth anniversary of his service for the City of Modesto, Mike Hammond joined two other members of Modesto’s Police Force in receiving a promotion from Sargent to Lieutenant. He was also named recipient of the Modesto Police Department’s Leadership Award by Chief of Police Brandon Gillespie.
Among a crowd that included Modesto Mayor Sue Zwahlen, City Manager Joe Lopez, and City Councilmember Tony Madrigal, as well as former Chief of Police Galen Carroll, Hammond made sure to thank his doctor, his chiropractor, and a host of others who had come to help celebrate his new position.
“Twenty years ago I was mentored and taught by veterans who understood how to enforce the law,” he said, in front of a large turnout for the public ceremony. “I’m proud to carry on that tradition of mentoring and teaching.”
Hammond’s mentoring and teaching doesn’t just apply to cops. It also includes people like the late Randy Limburg, who thrived under his guidance, going from homelessness to a position on Modesto’s CHAT Team, an outreach task force for assisting people experiencing homelessness. Like many who’ve worked with him, CHAT Team members Veda Malone and Christina Kenney were on hand to witness Hammond’s promotion.
“This is part of who we are,” said Hammond. “This is a promotion for the community.” Based on the cheers and applause that greeted his new badge, the community agrees.
AJ ward says
A well deserved promotion for one of the really good ones.
Joe Martin says
Well done Mike!
Keith A Ensminger says
Good for him. We need more officers like him who see the humanity in everyone.
JJJune Medeiros says
We do need more”cops”like Mike Hammond! Last year, a beloved relative of mine, became homeless as a result of untreated schizophrenia. She was at grave danger to herself and others. The police were called 5-6 times, They stated they couldn’t get her help because they may become liable once she recovers. They said call back when she’s in the act of suicide!!!!!Only by the grace of God did she survive. Although it was a tragic situation, I think Mike Hammond would have empathized with her. I pray the police will post this comment because it is with great honor and a renewed peace of mind, I say congratulations to you, Mike Hammond, on your service to those less fortunate deserves recognition! ✝️ God bless you
Dear JJJune Medeiros,
PRAISE GOD THAT YOUR RELATIVE SURVIVED. It is so difficult for people diagnosed with schizophrenia. If prescibed meds they are on is working, suddenly they are prescribed some-thing else that does not work so well, especially until their system gets adjusted. From what I know, from my friends on prescribed meds, they are seldom, if ever, told why the sudden med change took place. People are left guessing. Was it too much of a certain chemical building up in their system, or just insurance switching what they will pay for? I think schizophrenia is one of the more difficult illnesses to treat because of how they react to the meds. So often I hear of people who stopped taking their meds and going on a downward spiral.
I like to refrain from over using the term “mental illness,” because science has made such vast discoveries into how the mind and the entire body are in tandem together. Our mental faculties can be set off simply by our microbiome being unbalanced. So much of todays diets are having negative affects on our entire person.
It concerns me that the police could not help over some liability issue. I would like to know more of why that is, from the standpoint of a police spokesperson. It is devastating to be told to call when in the midst of suicide. It is devastating enough to hear that you were told that. I can only try to imagine what it is like for your beloved relative.
In situations like your relative’s, and people like yourself, who speak up and tell the public what you and she have endured, that more people can truly understand all the fault lines through out the system that need to be addressed. Absolutely no one should be facing comments like that, especially in times of great difficulty.
I like the idea that the police may be teamed up with a social worker or psychologist who really knows what they need to know, during times of crisis. We need more empathy, wisdom, and compassion centered around mental illnesses to go along with the brawn of the police responders. There a lot of good people out there, in need of other good people to walk them through a crisis or even to speak to them as if they truly matter. There is not enough of that being spread around.
I get that the police are already wearing too many hats as it is, so there jobs take them in so many directions that it may often be difficult for them to consistently take on a call one minute that is very intense on one end of the continuum of risk scenarios then come down off the adrenalin and firing neuro-transmitters that are still coursing through their bodies, in time to make calls minutes later that are at the other end of a continuum, and every where in between.
We ask a lot of our police officers, sheriffs, and other first responders who rush to the scenes of fires, accidents, physical maladies, and more. We need to show more appreciation for what it is they face each and every day and night. YET we also do not want to enable anyone to be callous towards us or our loved ones. I want to apologize to you, as another human being who can relate to the good and bad of what can go wrong, through no fault of our own.
Yes, I think Mike Hammond goes above and beyond what many think is expected of him, by virtue of his job description, as many think it. Please continue to tell us what you have run into to do with your experiences with your loved one. Too many people suffer in silence. We need to become people willing to suffer together. I heard it said often that what we do not know won’t hurt us. I beg to differ. It is precisely what we do not know, and that which we choose not to know, that is hurting us all. We are in this together, like it or not…God bless us all…
Lou Valero says
Communities seldom honor their own police as they could. The majority of police are selfless men and women deserving of our gratitude. It is especially outstanding when the local community of houseless individuals know and like an officer of the law. This is not because their is something about the homeless in particular that would cause them to not like the police. It is more that their is something about how the police are used as a tool to disrupt and disband the enclaves of the houseless, after they have found some semblance of trust among a group who huddle together. “I am only doing my job, sir or mam,” stands out as a well known phrase that does not set well with the homeless community.
Lieutenant Mike Hammond is the kind of “cop” we all want to know is out and about, not only doing his job, but spreading goodwill as he does. We cannot have enough men on the force like him…
So deserving, I have had the privilege to observe his work up close! Always a hero to me!
We know Mike well and appreciate his service to our community.
He has come to our aid on behalf of many individuals over the years.
And thanks to Eric for bringing this event to our attention.
Wayne Bridegroom says
I was a pastor at Central Baptist Church in west Modesto for over 45 years. Mike Hammond is legendary among the folk on our side of the tracks.
Pastor Rick Williams says
Lt. Mike Hammond is a gem among men! A man who loves his God, his family and his community.