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Vanguard Featured Article

by: Officer Juan Reyes

 

VANGUARD: So, Dan, your Reserve Badge # is 054A. Seems like a pretty low number. Is there anything lower than that?

GUARASCIO: Nope, that's it.

VANGUARD: Okay. So, Dan, your name came to me as a potential interviewee a while back and if you want to go after someone for this, I won't mention his name, but Ruben Chavez is out there somewhere.

GUARASCIO: (laughter) I would think so!

VANGUARD: So thank you for coming in. I think you have a lot to say, and being a reservist for the San José PD, I'm anxious to talk to you. Before we get into this, though, how many years do you have with the Reserves?

GUARASCIO: A little over 41.

VANGUARD: 41 years. Oh my God. I don't even think half of our department is 41.

(laughter)

VANGUARD: That's quite a few years.

GUARASCIO: Yeah, I feel like I've been here since the Civil War.

(laughter)

VANGUARD: So tell me a little about yourself, Dan. Where were you born?

GUARASCIO: I was born in San José on May 17, 1943. We lived on North 9th Street. My dad was a doctor and my mom was a housewife. My dad built a ranch house on 3 or 4 acres in Santa Clara soon after I was born . My dad built our next home in 1951 on Di Salvo Avenue in San Jose. My mom sold that house in 1972 after my dad passed away and moved to Willow Glen.

VANGUARD: So your dad had some lush properties.

GUARASCIO: He did.

VANGUARD: God bless him.

GUARASCIO: After the house on 9th street, we never lived in a "used" house. My dad always had our future houses built to his specifications.

VANGUARD: Wow, very nice. So where did you go to school?

GUARASCIO: Attended St. Clare's.

VANGUARD: Right, where my kids are.

GUARASCIO: I attended St. Francis high school in my freshman year which was then an all-boys school. Being an all-boys school, it was okay, but the Jesuits were pretty tough. From there I attended Campbell High School beginning with my sophomore year. In my junior year, I attended Del Mar High School, which was built in 1960. Students from Camden and Campbell High School depending in what part of the district you lived in were re-directed to Del Mar.

VANGUARD: Now, was it that you didn't like the Jesuits, or you just didn't want to conform to their teachings and you wanted to be a little rabble-rouser.

GUARASCIO: I think they got a little tired of me and the other guys going across the street to chase the girls at Holy Cross, which was an all-girls school. The nuns would always run us off and call the Jesuits.

(laughter)

VANGUARD: I figured there was a real reason why you didn't like it.

GUARASCIO: It wasn't very warm when they said that we were not invited back. "It is what it is".

VANGUARD: Man, you've probably been attending St. Clare's school and church since it was established back in 1851.

GUARASCIO: I think so.

VANGUARD: It's one of the oldest-if not the oldest-schools in this county.

GUARASCIO: I began in 1949 and graduated in '57.

VANGUARD: Well you should come out to our Chicken Festival on June 6 at St. Clare's.

GUARASCIO: I didn't know they still had those. That festival has been around 100 years so it seems.

VANGUARD: I'm the head barbequer. Come by for some eats and a cold beer.

GUARASCIO: I'll plan on that, absolutely!

VANGUARD: I've been there for nearly 23 years, and I've been running the barbecue for about seven years.

GUARASCIO: Wow. Matter of fact, I just found my first report card from St. Clare's.

VANGUARD: Nice. So you went to school there, and how about military time?

GUARASCIO: I am a Vietnam era veteran having served with the U.S. Air Force from 1961 until 1967 with assignments in the states as well as overseas.

VANGUARD: By the way, do we have your information for the special wall we're putting up at the POA for all officers and reservists who have served in the military-served then, served now? Make sure we get that. We're honoring all the men and women in the SJPD that have served in all military branches, and it's a plaqued wall that will continue to grow as people from the police family continue to serve and we acknowledge their service.

GUARASCIO: I'll make sure you get it.

VANGUARD: So, what did you do after the military?

GUARASCIO: Soon after the service I was hired by a Department of Defense Sub-Contractor in Santa Clara which supported the Vietnam War. I worked there as an expeditor. In the mid-seventies. I began work for ESL which is a division of TRW. I was a "Contract Administrator" supporting the Military as well as the nations security agencies here in the states as well as overseas. I worked at TRW for 25 years, and retired 9 years ago.

VANGUARD: So were you there when the shooting happened at ESL?

GUARASCIO: Yes I was. I worked in that same building.

VANGUARD: No kidding.

GUARASCIO: It was interesting, I can say this, and this is kind of bizarre, but a week before that tragedy occurred, the company banned smoking in the workplace. My finance who also worked at ESL called and said, "Come join me for a cigarette." I said OK, so I got in my car and drove the couple blocks to her building. Returning back, I entered the parking lot and heard all this shooting. I saw a victim lying in the doorway which happened to be one of our engineers. I returned back to my finance's building and called my good friend Fred Formosa who is now Director of Security for the 49ers. I asked him what was going on. He said he didn't know, but there was a lot of shooting going on. I then called my other friend Bob Bailey who also worked at TRW .(Rich Bailey's twin brother). Bob was also a San Jose Reserve Officer. Bob said he didn't know what was happening but he could hear the gunshots. I stayed in my finance's building for a while, and then headed home and watched the whole thing unfold on T.V.

VANGUARD: That was a really bizarre situation.

GUARASCIO: Yeah, it was really tense, really something.

VANGUARD: So in other words, the "No smoking" rule might have saved your life.

GUARASCIO: The Lord works in mysteries ways. When your ticket is punched, there's not much you can do about it. It wasn't my time.

VANGUARD: You kind of forget about things like that, but when you talk about major massacres, ESL always seems to pop up. It was a tragedy.

GUARASCIO: Absolutely.

VANGUARD: So, you're married, and the name of your lovely wife is…

GUARASCIO: Her name is Sharon.

VANGUARD: Any children?

GUARASCIO: Just from previous marriages. I have three boys and my wife has one daughter.

VANGUARD: So you worked for ESL/TRW for 25 years, and what did you do after that?

GUARASCIO: When I retired, I stayed committed to the Reserves, which I joined on February 10, 1969.

VANGUARD: Why that day?

GUARASCIO: That was just the day that was chosen to take the oath. A number of us took the oath on that day.

VANGUARD: I know it's been a while, but do you recall any of the guys you took the oath with?

GUARASCIO: If I'm not mistaken, Phil Pitts, Rich Frazier, Stan Edwards, Jim Neal-there were a number of us-Dick Reisner…I just can't remember them all.

VANGUARD: Do you remember who swore you in?

GUARASCIO: It was a county clerk. The PD was located on the bottom floor of the old City Hall.

VANGUARD: So you were down on Market Street.

GUARASCIO: No, no, no, no-not THAT old City Hall! The vacant City Hall on Mission. The bottom floor was the police department. Soon after, we moved to the Health Building. PAB was still under construction and was not quite ready.

VANGUARD: Who was the chief at the time?

GUARASCIO: Ray Blackmoore.

VANGUARD: So you've had the opportunity to work under a whole bunch of different chiefs.

GUARASCIO: I have, and numerous Reserve Directors.

VANGUARD: Any of them stand out?

GUARASCIO: They've all been good Reserve Directors, all the way from the beginning with Captain Lew Haller. It's very difficult to single one out as "America's Idol".

VANGUARD: And are you still active with the Reserves?

GUARASCIO: Yes I am.

VANGUARD: Well, that's a good answer then!

(laughter)

VANGUARD: So when you joined back in the 60's, I'm sure things were different then.

GUARASCIO: My original badge number was R647, so every time I went to work, they'd put me in the wagon. My first day out on patrol was with Rich Visuzzi . Rich and I attended Del Mar together-however he was one year ahead of me. Working the wagon was quite an experience. I thought to myself then, "You know, I may like this line of work."

(laughter)

VANGUARD: So did you guys have to go through an academy? And on the training aspect of it for the reserves, did you guys attend CPT?

GUARASCIO: Yes. I attended the academy for reservists in '68.
At the time, our training was conducted at San José City College. We also attended classes at satellite locations like at James Lick and other schools. Yes we attend CPT. It is a requirement for us, just like the regulars. The same blocks and the same requirements for the regular officers are required for reserves as well, mandated under POST.

VANGUARD: So what was the requirement back then?

GUARASCIO: A high school education, clean record, basically what it is now, and a background of course. If I recall, there was no psych test at the time for reserves. Probably because they thought we were all crazy anyway to do this for free. It's difficult to remember all the requirements.

VANGUARD: Currently, do you guys do any additional training out of your own pocket?

GUARASCIO: Yes, we do. There's "ARPOC" which is normally held at a high end hotel that can accommodate all the reserve officers that attend from all over California. ARPOC are normally held in San Diego or Sacramento. I try to attend every year. It is four days of training which is certifiable with POST. As a matter of fact, Dave Wysuph is one of ARPOC instructors.

VANGUARD: On hunting.

GUARASCIO: Right, on hunting.

(laughter)

VANGUARD: How to skin. How to cook. How to marinate. How to make chorizo. How to smoke cigars. How to stuff a city refrigerator with ducks.

(laughter)

VANGUARD: Those were the days.

GUARASCIO: Yes they were. Man, do you know Dave.

VANGUARD: Great guy. I like his tattoo on his leg by the way.

GUARASCIO: Is that the one that says "I love Dan"

VANGUARD: Tell him to show you his legs. I think once in a while, I see that color down there peep out of his shorts. He's got some color on those legs. I think he's got some tattoo down there.

GUARASCIO: Well he saw my tattoos, and he sure liked the one of the goose.

VANGUARD: So do you recall who your first supervisor was that you got assigned to, or did you just ride along with officers like they do now?

GUARASCIO: Yes and no. You would show up to briefing and if you did not know anyone, the briefing Sgt. would assign you to an officer to work with. I worked with Chuck Seaton a few times, and then I was assigned to work with Steve Heck. I worked with Steve for five years. We became very good friends. We would be able to read each other's thoughts when we were on the beat. We had some great experiences together, and I've got to tell you, it was work but still a hell of a lot of fun. There were some gutsy situations that I look back on and laugh, however at the time it wasn't too funny.

VANGUARD: Steve Heck was a great guy. I got to work for him for a little while. So was there a field training program you had to go through?

GUARASCIO: It was more on-the-job training.

VANGUARD: Okay, and did you have to buy all your own equipment?

GUARASCIO: Yes. Uniforms, leather, personal weapon, which at the time had to be a revolver-- .357 magnum, Smith or Colt. The only thing that was issued to you was a badge and I.D. card.

VANGUARD: So you said you worked the 647-F wagon quite a bit. What was the call?

GUARASCIO: Rich and I had a call to respond to a bookstore located on 1st at Santa Clara Streets where a bomb had detonated. The next morning when I read the article in the newspaper, I thought there was a second bomb incident. The news media distorted the story so much that I thought there was another bomb incident at a different location . That was my first experience with the news media and how things can get distorted.

VANGUARD: So there's been no change then, right?

(laughter)

GUARASCIO: Nope, same type of news reporting only 41 years later.

VANGUARD: It's the same thing. You can be there and it can read totally different in the paper the next day.

GUARASCIO: Absolutely.

VANGUARD: So…La Mariah.

GUARASCIO: The Black Mariah was I believe a 1951 through a1956 GMC panel truck. It was heavy duty with double rear wheels and it was all black with the gold San José PD star. That was our paddy wagon. All the old time officers called it the Black Mariah. I was told by an old veteran Joe Vitto that you always refer to the wagon as the "Black Mariah" . That goes back years. I never understood why they called it that, but Joe told me that when the old City Hall was still standing (where Cesar Chavez Park is now) they had to go through a tunnel which was designed for horse and carriage-type paddy wagons. As the story goes, the officers had to pull in the side mirrors so they wouldn't be scraped. According to Joe, side clearance only allowed a few inches.

 

VANGUARD: So during your time, I know you were involved in a couple things. You did a lot of security for some notable people.

GUARASCIO: Yes I did. I've been involved with the convention center for the last 39 years with my partner and good friend John Pointer; I worked for George Cochrane along with Sgt Jerry Albericci , officer Dick Yuhas and many other old timers. We had occasions to work as body guards for celebrities who were performing at the Center for Performing Arts. I've met Bill Cosby, Debbie Reynolds, Jay Leno, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, and many others. I've worked every President detail for every President that visited San Jose since 1972. Bob Hope was kind of interesting. Myself, John Pointer and Mike Leininger were chosen to go to the Jet Center to pick up Bob Hope who was going to perform at the CPA later that evening. After he arrived in his private jet, Mr. Hope stood at the door of his jet and wouldn't come down the steps until he spoke to someone in charge. I told him who I was, Officer Dan Guarascio, yada yada yada, and that we were assigned to escort him to the CPA. He said to me, "Do you have a check for $50,000 for me?" I said, "Mr. Hope, if I had a check for you for $50,000 I'd be in that plane, instead of you." He started laughing hard and said to me "you are going to go a long way Son". Just then someone from the organization approached and handed him the check. But the guy wouldn't get off his plane until he had that check in his hand.

(laughter)

GUARASCIO: I escorted Barry Manilow for a few days when he was in town for a performance. Great guy. I've had a few that were kind of dicey, but you just go with the flow.

VANGUARD: So there was a movie being shot downtown with Clint Eastwood?

GUARASCIO: Yes, the "The Rookie." I was the coordinator for the pay job officers back in 1990. I met Clint Eastwood and I got to tell you, he is a very, very likeable guy. Here's a funny story. Bob Bailey and I were working department relief one night out on the west side. I had a call from one of Clint Eastwood's staff members telling me that Clint wanted to see me regarding the shoot they were doing at the airport. They had already completed the highway 87, and 680/Capital shoot, and now they were at the airport. I told Bob, "We've got to get out there." Bob says, "No one will know we're even gone." So we got on Stevens Creek and we were just about to get on 17 when a call comes out "possible 211 in progress, at Western
Applicance off-duty officer requesting a Code 3 fill". Well, we were almost on top of it, and definitely couldn't ignore it. So we rolled Code 3 and arrived at Western Appliance in about two minutes and proceeded inside. We walked around the corner by the washer and dryers where we encountered three bad guys with ski masks. They fired a round with a shotgun in their attempt to escape. I put out a Code 20. Long story short, the bad guys got away and we proceed to the airport. The first thing Clint Eastwood asked me was, "What'd you guys do, get in a shoot-out?" And I said, "You don't know how close you are, Mr. Eastwood." Great guy.

VANGUARD: So what happened with those three bad guys?

GUARASCIO: They got away from the scene, however the S.O. caught one later that night on Scott Ave. The suspect rolled over on the other two. Three 18-year-olds trying to make it big, but they didn't get very far.

VANGUARD: Just goes to show that just when you think you can squeeze out for a minute, something always happens.

Talking about your career, what really brought you into the reserves?

GUARASCIO: When I was working at this defense company in Santa Clara, I was talking to this employee, who said to me, "You know, I'm a cop." I said, "What do you mean you're a cop?" He pulls out a Reserve Officer badge from Campbell PD. He says, "I'm a reserve." I had no idea what he was talking about. We got to talking, and I said, "You know, I've always had a liking for law enforcement." This sounded like something I would really like to pursue. Law Enforcement while keeping your current job. So I went after it and here I am.

VANGUARD: So once you got involved with the reserves, you've been here for over 41 years now. What makes you tick and keeps you involved?

GUARASCIO: I like talking to people. I have been told that I have a gift when it comes to talking to people. Doesn't matter if it's a homeless person or a CEO, I just have a knack talking their language. All my friends are in law enforcement. I am very grateful for that.

VANGUARD: What was the support like from your parents?

GUARASCIO: They were fine with it. I left home at 18, joined the Air Force and never moved back home to live.

VANGUARD: Wow. Kids don't do that nowadays.

GUARASCIO: No, they don't.

VANGUARD: So you're continuing to do this. You're retired from TRW, and now you're just working with the reserves, right?

GUARASCIO: Correct.

VANGUARD: So who manages all those wonderful pay jobs?

GUARASCIO: As far as the convention center, John Pointer and I are the coordinators for all events, including the California theatre, Civic Auditorium, CPA, Montgomery Theater and South Hall. We have been blessed with the opportunity to serve in this capacity for many years. We have a great rapport with the convention center staff as well as the city employees. Previous Clients who have hired pay job officers for their security needs continue to do so when they return. Clients admire our professional and personal level of work.

VANGUARD: So for me to sign up to work pay jobs, who do I see?

GUARASCIO: You would see John or myself, however I got to tell you Juan, there was a day that we used officers 24/7, however those days are gone. But yes, it would be John or myself.

VANGUARD: I'm only kidding. Phil wouldn't let me anyway.

(laughter)

VANGUARD: I remember working the convention centers when we used to have the Mexican live bands.

GUARASCIO: We still have them.

VANGUARD: And Ruben Chavez used to get a hold of me and we'd work from 6pm to 2am, and then I'd work through the New Year's Eve stuff.

GUARASCIO: I remember those New Year's Eve ones-

VANGUARD: Oh boy, let me tell you. And you're right; it's nice having the reserves and the pay jobs, because they really do help a lot. I guess there are a lot of officers who aren't familiar with how the system works, but I guess to work pay jobs…well, let's say for a young officer who's off probation and wants to do a pay job, how do they find out about them?

GUARASCIO: Normally it's word-of-mouth or through SEU. Either way, the officers must have a work permit and insurance on file to work. What I strongly advise for young officers who want to get into the pay job business is to: 1.) play it by the book. It's not worth short circuiting the system for a few dollars. 2.) Respect the people who hire you. I've seen too many times where the person who hires you says, "We'd like you to do this," and the officer comes back with, "No, you don't tell us, we tell you." Listen to what they have to say. Explain to them your role as an off-duty officer, and the reason you can not accommodate their request.

VANGUARD: And I agree, it's a very different way of doing business. I've worked plenty of pay jobs myself over the years, and there is a different attitude. Once you get situated in there it's kind of nice. It does help out, and you do have a lot of senior officers that are still doing it. How many reserve officers do you have right now?

GUARASCIO: I would say 150+. And this is a tribute to our organization: I would say most of those officers-80 to 90 of them--are retired San José officers that became reserves. Of that 80 to 90, a good percentage were reserves prior to becoming regulars. I've talked to a lot of the retired officers that I've known for the years that tell me that being a reserve is great because it keeps you busy. You don't want to sit in front of a TV, vegetate over a beer and eat potato chips all day. That's not good. The Reserves also let you keep the camaraderie.

VANGUARD: I know that I've always respected all you guys. My beat partner on midnights was Mark Feiferk.

GUARASCIO: I know Mark very well. Good guy.

VANGUARD: Mark would ride with me twice a month and we'd work the Alviso car on mids and I tell you what, he'd always make it a pleasurable night, especially bringing in his own stogies. It's really nice. You get to work with reserves that are really talented, they know how to talk with people really well. Whenever I ride with a reserve, I learn stuff about them that I wouldn't know otherwise. Mark and I became really close friends. And you're right: you ride along with each other for so long that when you both get out of the car; you both know what to expect. You already know.

GUARASCIO: You can read each other's minds, and you develop a trust that's next to none.

VANGUARD: Mark and I got into some things. You know, when Mark's eyebrows raise a little bit and he's trying to explain something to you, things can get out of control. Mark's always been good about putting things back into control.

(laughter)

GUARASCIO: That must come from Marks "Navy Seal" training.

VANGUARD: So now that you've been in the reserves and you're retired from TRW, what do you do in your other spare time?

GUARASCIO: One of my hobbies is riding my Harleys. I ride with other reserves and regular officers as well. I ride with John Pointer Mike Leininger and Ruben Chavez even though Ruben has a BMW, but that's okay.

VANGUARD: Well first of all, Ruben's a little softie.

(laughter)

VANGUARD: And Mike Leininger…does he have to put weights on to keep from getting blown off the bike, or does he have a big windshield in the front to keep the wind off of him?

GUARASCIO: Training wheels.

VANGUARD: Training wheels!

GUARASCIO: We put training wheels on his motorcycle; however he always takes them off.

VANGUARD: And I can imagine that when he rides, he must whistle, because he's like a stick in the wind.

(laughter)

GUARASCIO: Aw, don't be too hard on him. He's a good rider.

VANGUARD: I see the folks he hangs out with, all right?

GUARASCIO: Yeah, they're questionable.

(laughter)

VANGUARD: But I didn't know why he had that tattoo put on the lower part of his back.

GUARASCIO: I think it's a tattoo of a Red Rose. Dave Wysuph had something to do with the selection. Mike was trying to decide between a Rose or a Pansy.

VANGUARD: We should have him show it to us.

GUARASCIO: I don't think Mike has shown that tattoo to anyone.

VANGUARD: I'm only kidding.

GUARASCIO: I know.

VANGUARD: I think.

(laughter)

VANGUARD: Mike's a great guy, and I didn't realize he was on bikes either until I went to his retirement party. Great people.

GUARASCIO: A lot of us get Harley's when we retire.

VANGUARD: I think Phil had his for the longest time and just sold it. I think his back just couldn't handle the riding anymore like he used to. From what I do hear, you guys make some decent trips.

GUARASCIO: We go on cruises as well as long overnight bike rides . We've been on a lot of them, especially with the late Dave Aguilar. He was a real fun person. Great guy. We have all taken cruises to Alaska, the Caribbean, Mexico and different other places.

VANGUARD: They sound like fun trips and great guys. Some of the best officers in this department are retiring, and with the retirees, I think as of June last year, or up through June of this year, there's nearly 90 officers retiring. And thousands of years of experience are leaving. I know that many of them are going to the reserves though.

GUARASCIO: Absolutely.

VANGUARD: Which is, wow. A wonderful thing for the city. Now I understand that hopefully down the road, the San Francisco 49ers come into Santa Clara and there will be some openings there for the security jobs.

GUARASCIO: Yeah, my buddy Fred said it will impact a number of jurisdictions, because Santa Clara won't be able handle all of the security.

VANGUARD: Right, and you've got Sunnyvale and San José, so I think it's a great opportunity for anyone that's in the reserves. There will be some great jobs there.

GUARASCIO: I think so.

VANGUARD: So, Dan, I know you're a busy guy. Seems like as soon as we retire, we become busier.

GUARASCIO: That's a fact.

VANGUARD: Ever since I retired I've been doing the real estate property management and helping Phil Pitts with his mortgage company, but I've stayed involved. That's one thing that I do and that keeps me busy and away from home.

GUARASCIO: You need that.

VANGUARD: It's a wonderful thing but it's important to still make time to have fun. That's important.

GUARASCIO: I agree.

VANGUARD: So I just want to thank you for the opportunity to chat with you. 41 years as a reservist is phenomenal. You don't hear too much of that. I just wanted to do a public thank you for your service and your time. Is there anytime soon that you think you'll hang up that leather belt?

GUARASCIO: The time will come, but when it's hard to tell.

VANGUARD: Well, like anything else, we have to move on, and you have to know when the right time is.

GUARASCIO: Absolutely.

VANGUARD: So thank you for the opportunity. It's been a pleasure. We always hear little things here and there, but I like to grab people and talk to them so people in the department get to know who you are and what you do.

GUARASCIO: I'm just sorry that most of the stories I was telling you earlier can not be printed.

VANGUARD: That's okay. There are plenty of things people love to talk about, but it's over a beer and off the record.

GUARASCIO: We were the best and had our time in history, however now its time to move aside for a completely new and different era.

VANGUARD: Yes we were. Things have changed.

GUARASCIO: Yes they have.

VANGUARD: And those that have worked the years in the past will always have things to talk about.

GUARASCIO: You bet.

VANGUARD: And that's what's nice about it.

Dan, again, thank you very much.

GUARASCIO: My pleasure, and thank you for inviting me. It's been fun.

VANGUARD: Yes it has.

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