By JASON ECK
Sonora Police Department has filled another officer vacancy, bringing the force one position short of full strength.
Chris Weber, the city's newest officer whose last name falls one B and several zeros short on the pay scale of the Sacramento Kings' star will begin work Saturday and have his first day of field training Sunday.
Weber, who lives and grew up in Merced, will work alongside three different officers for about three months to become acquainted with the streets of Sonora, local policing and the computer system. A veteran officer will shadow Weber until he demonstrates the ability and confidence to work on his own, said Lt. Pat Tonegato.
Weber, 22, worked as a part-time dispatcher and reserve officer for the Chowchilla Police Department for eight months beginning in November 2001. This week he will leave his job as a loss prevention officer with Gottschalks.
Weber, who graduated from the Ray Simon Regional Criminal Justice Training Center in Modesto in June 2001, said he is ready for his first day.
"I'm very excited," he said. "I can't wait to start."
Weber is a student at Merced Junior College. He plans to transfer to California State University, Stanislaus, and major in public administration. He will commute to Sonora until he can find a home here.
Tonegato said Weber has no full-time police experience outside his short stint with the Chowchilla Police Department.
He's not completely unfamiliar with the area. Weber has lived in Sonora in the past and worked at Dodge Ridge for two seasons a couple of years ago. A fly fisherman who likes the mountain climate, Weber said he always knew he wanted to start his law enforcement career in Sonora.
"It has everything I want," he said.
Weber is the second officer to have joined the department in the past month. Officer Jeff Aitken, 26, started with the department Feb. 15. Aitken worked 18 months as a deputy with the Calaveras County Sheriff's Department before accepting the job in Sonora.