Hickman changed roles Feb. 25, with hopes of one day being promoted to sergeant. Working in the homicide unit will round out his experience, he said.
“(Homicide) was on my checklist,” he said. “It was one of the things I’ve always wanted to do. I’ll stay as long as they let me.”
Hickman, who has worked for Patterson Police Services since late 2002, described the department as a close-knit family.
“We’ve always worked together closely,” he said.
He described investigating the kidnapping and killing of 4-year-old Juliani Cardenas in 2011 as one of his most memorable cases.
Juliani was snatched from his grandmother’s arms by Jose Esteban Rodriguez, his mother’s ex-boyfriend. Working on a tip, area residents, police officials and fire crews searched the Delta-Mendota Canal for two weeks and ultimately found the boy’s body near Santa Nella.
Police believe Rodriguez drove his car into the canal with Juliani buckled inside, based on a fisherman spotted a car matching the vehicle’s description drive into the Delta-Mendota.
“The collaborative effort between citizens, law enforcement and the fire department was amazing,” he said, calling the case unprecedented for the area. “It unfortunately ended tragically for everyone involved, but at least we got closure in the case.”
Police Chief Tori Hughes offered high praise for the departing detective.
“Losing Hickman is a huge loss,” she said. “He’s one of the best that I’ve ever worked with in this business. He’s been here an incredibly long time, and he’s going to be greatly missed.”
Detective Casey Hill, who has taken Hickman’s place as a general-crimes detective after serving two years as Patterson’s school resource officer, described Hickman as a resolute investigator.
“He is so good,” Hill said. “I hope to bring the same tenacity.”
Hickman had confidence in Hill, describing him as a go-getter.
“Casey’s got a good head on his shoulders,” he said. “He’ll do just fine.”
Hill said the students made his previous assignment enjoyable, but he looked forward to getting into the details of investigations.
Hughes expects good things from Hill, as well.
“Casey has a lot of knowledge and experience as a community deputy and a school resource officer,” she said. “He brings a lot of knowledge of the community, having served as a school resource officer here in Patterson.”
• Contact Nick Rappley at 892-6187, ext. 31, or firstname.lastname@example.org.