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Budget cuts means 3 less Lathrop deputies

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POSTED February 9, 2010 1:55 a.m.
LATHROP – The number of Lathrop Police patrol officers remains the same even with the loss of three deputies on staff, said Lathrop City Manager Cary Keaten.

These officers were not laid off, he clarified. The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s office simply took back those three deputies as part of the contract negotiations that had been going on between the county and the city. It was the final move in the city’s effort to trim the 2009-10 budget deficit which originally started at $2.5 million.

“We didn’t have (police) layoffs. The Sheriff’s Office took back three deputies and (they) went back to work for the county,” said Keaten.

Police officers that were re-assigned to the Sheriff’s Office were the following: one of the two school resource officers, one of three sergeants (eliminated was the administrative sergeant position), and the filled position in the Community Impact Team.

“Those schedule revisions were just made in January,” Keaten said, and reduced the originally proposed police budget from nearly $5 million down to $4.5 million for the current fiscal year.

That translates to an additional $500,000 savings in the budget deficit.

That savings, in turn, has further whittled down the city’s budget deficit to “a little under $2 million,” Keaten said.

Additional savings that have been implemented since the beginning of the 2009-10 fiscal year on July 1, 2009 include the elimination of 15 city staff positions in May 2009 – five of them budgeted but were not filled at that time – plus instituting mandatory Friday furloughs for all city employees across the board including the Police Services. That meant City Hall and Lathrop police office were closed on Fridays with the exception of emergency services. The layoff of 10 city employees, with the majority of them in Parks and Recreation Streets Maintenance division, resulted in a budget savings of $1.3 million.

Before the January revamp in Police Services, the department had 27 patrol officers aided by four civilian employees. Together, the staff handled a 9.2 percent increase in calls for services in the two years prior to 2009 – from 23,048 in 2007 to 25,168 in 2008. The rest of the work load included 3,324 documented reports plus 1,974 traffic citations and 580 arrests.

The police force currently serves a population of 17,671 residents which registered a 1.38 percent increase during the 12-month period from Jan. 2008 to Jan. 2009 despite the slowdown in residential building throughout the city but particularly in the west side which suffered the brunt in the mortgage meltdown that led into record foreclosures of new homes that were priced up to $750,000 at the height of the building boom just prior to 2005.
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