Watsonville Police Capt. Tony Magdayao (left) poses with former WPD Chief Terry Medina Wednesday during a farewell party. Medina initially hired Magdayao 29 years ago. —Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

Note: Reporter Tarmo Hannula contributed to this story

WATSONVILLE—After nearly three decades with the Watsonville Police Department, Capt. Tony Magdayao has dipped his toes into the quiet waters of retirement.

Magdayao was 30 when he joined the department, closing a career that began when he was a student at Monterey High School enrolled in a police science class.

“I went on a ride-along with the Monterey Police Department, and from then on I got hooked,” he said just before his retirement party Wednesday. “It’s all I’ve wanted to do since I was 16.”

Born in Monterey, Magdayao attended Monterey High and Monterey Peninsula College before starting the police academy. He briefly served as a reserve officer in Seaside, but the rest of his time was in Watsonville.

During that time, he served as patrol officer, corporal, field training officer, administrative sergeant, Special Response Team Commander, investigations and special ops.

“This is where my home is, in terms of my career,” he said. 

That came despite having other chances to leave, he said, explaining that he liked the family atmosphere in WPD, as well as the way the department conducts its police work.

“Why would I leave,” he said. “I was happy.”

His favorite assignment, he said, was working with the now disbanded Santa Cruz County Narcotics Enforcement Team (CNET), which was a joint effort with county agencies and the U.S. Department of Justice that focused on narcotics enforcement.

“It was the greatest assignment of my career,” he said. 

Despite the changing cultural view of law enforcement, which has brought increased scrutiny to the profession, Magdayao says he still encourages young people to consider it as a career.

“It’s a tough time to be working in police work these days,” he said. “But it is still an honored profession. I encourage people who want to do this work to keep doing the good fight. Be professional and be courteous, and everything else will fall into place.”

Former WPD Police Chief Terry Medina—one of four chiefs under which Magdayao served—said he was “the epitome of knowing the law.”

“He has a cool demeanor under pressure, he is always making good decisions no matter what level he was on,” Medina said. “And he is a compassionate individual.”

In his off-time, he volunteered with Meals on Wheels, Medina said. 

“He served our community both as a police officer and a volunteer, and that goes beyond just being a cop,” he said. “He is just the best of the best.”

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General assignment reporter, covering nearly every beat. I specialize in feature stories, but equally skilled in hard and spot news. Pajaronian/Good Times/Press Banner reporter honored by CSBA. https://pajaronian.com/r-p-reporter-honored-by-csba/



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