After More Than 30 Years, Longtime Watsonville Cop Retires

Master Officer Steve Nakamoto's final shift was Thursday.

Friday is the start of a new chapter in Steve Nakamoto's life.

He's retired.

Nakamoto's police career began in 1976 when he joined the Watsonville Police Cadets. It ended Thursday with an informal party in Rio Del Mar.

Nakamoto, 51, was born in Salinas but was raised in Watsonville. He attended Freedom Elementary School and , and graduated from Watsonville High in 1977. He took the ROP Introduction to Law Enforcement class at Cabrillo College his senior year and became a Watsonville police cadet.

He was promoted to master officer in 1997 but also has served as a detective, field training officer and K9 officer. He's the department liaison to the state Alcohol Beverage Control, taught ROP classes and, for the past 10 years, has been the instructor for classes held at the police station.

Twice Nakamoto has been recognized with the Honorable Service Medal—for his handling of the 1985-87 cannery strike and the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. He was awarded the Exceptional Duty Medal for efforts in putting together Watsonville Police Department’s Citizen Academy Program in 1999.

Nakamoto and his wife, Tandra, married in 1988 and have three adult sons. Dennis Todd Wilson III, who is Nakamoto's stepson, teaches at Lakeview Middle School. Nakamoto's oldest son, Michael, a member of the U.S. Air Force, is married and stationed in Montana. Nakamoto's younger son, James, was discharged from the U.S. Army, 10th Mountain Division Infantry, after suffering combat wounds while serving in Iraq. He now lives in Watsonville and works for a local electrical contractor.


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