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New Lathrop police partner?

Council mulls 4 options including Manteca, Tracy

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New Lathrop police partner?

Lathrop Police officers investigate a homicide in April of 2016.

Bulletin file photo/

POSTED December 16, 2017 12:53 a.m.

Could the cities of Manteca or Tracy soon provide police protection to the more than 22,000 residents of Lathrop?
That’ll be up to the Lathrop City Council to decide on Monday, Dec. 18, when they discuss the city’s options pertaining to police protection as they look towards the future and ensuring that the growing community – which will more than double in size once the already approved housing tracts are constructed across the western edge of the city – is adequately covered from both a public safety and financial standpoint.
The issue, according to the report prepared by Lathrop city staff using data collected by Municipal Resource Group, is that the city’s existing police contract with the San Joaquin County Sherriff’s Office will eventually prove to be too costly to be feasible due to a number of factors beyond the control of the city council.
“Although, this option represents a stable and reliable service configuration, with continuous skyrocketing costs; it will soon become a financially unsustainable option for the City,” the report states. “Contract demands such as post-retirement costs; inflexibility in using lower-cost nonsworn employees for support tasks; overhead costs passed down to the City; and start- up costs exceeding $275,000 for each officer as the City adds to its police workforce, make the agreement with SJCSO unmanageable and extremely difficult to fulfill.”
That leaves the city with a couple of options when looking at protecting its residents well into the future.
First, the city could fulfill its longstanding goal of investing in its own police department. One of the four options that has been provided to the council to consider makes this undertaking a hybrid approach where, because of the exorbitant cost of funding all of the categories of a fully-functional police department, the city would hire its own police officers but contract with a neighboring agency for assistance with things like dispatching, records management, special investigative units, SWAT protect, human resource, internal affairs and certification and training services.
If the city were to examine other options for contracting for full police protection, they could consider partnering with either the Manteca Police Department or the Tracy Police Department – each with their own unique circumstances.
Manteca, for example, would need a major structural overhaul to the existing police station to complement the additional officers that would need to be hired to maintain law and order in Lathrop. Beyond that, the department has several longtime officers that are preparing for retirement, a cost that would be borne by the City of Lathrop, and the city’s low staffing ratios would mean that an abundance of officers would need to be recruited and hired – not an easy task given the demanding qualifications of the job.
Tracy, on the other hand, recently built a new police department that would be suitable for accommodating the additional manpower, and the need for manpower in Tracy wouldn’t be nearly as great as it would with Manteca. Tracy’s current operational structure could accommodate a 30 percent increase if a contract were signed with Lathrop, and the city itself has expressed interest in pursuing a contract situation.
The report also clearly states that the cost of sworn officers in Tracy would be significantly less expensive, but there would be additional costs in recruiting, hiring and training personnel – not to mention the unknown costs of expanding dispatch and records management services.
Earlier this week the Lathrop City Council agreed to begin negotiations with River Islands over the construction of a new police department within the master planned community that would be paid for by the developer and turned over to the city for its use. The report does not mention this, or how the examination of any of these other options would affect those negotiations.
Staff is asking the council to consider the multiple options that are in front of them, including staying with the Sherriff’s Office, and authorize staff to begin compiling the costs associated with each of the options that are before them.
This will mark the last Lathrop City Council meeting on the third Monday of the month for the foreseeable future. After the first of the year, the council will me monthly on the second Monday of the month at Lathrop City Hall, located at 390 Towne Centre Drive, at 7 p.m.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.

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