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Stimulus funds help Manteca cops

Money will buy on-board computers, cars

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Stimulus funds help Manteca cops

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin Federal stimulus funds will help Manteca Police replace two aging Ford Victoria Crown patrol units with roughly 100,000 miles on the with two new Dodge Chargers.

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POSTED May 5, 2009 1:33 a.m.

Federal dollars may help assure that the Manteca Police have top-notch functioning equipment while at the same time avoiding dipping into general fund receipts.
The Manteca City Council tonight is expected to seek its share - $147,000 to be exact – of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 funds’ component aimed at providing funds through  the federal Department of Justice to assist state and local law enforcement combat crime.
Police Chief Dave Bricker is recommending the money be used for one-time capital expenditures that would normally be covered from the general fund.
He is requesting the funds be used to purchase 16 Panasonic Tough Book in-car computers with mounts at $4,600 apiece for $73,600 overall. The plan is also to replace two aging Ford Victoria Crown patrol cars with around 100,000 miles on them with two new Dodge Charger patrol cars at $36,700 apiece or $73,400 in total.
The city, under pressure to reduce costs to cover the estimated $11.3 million budget deficit expected to materialize in the fiscal year starting July 1, had cut out a lot of capital expenses to replace aging equipment in a timely manner.
The federal money means the computers will be placed in patrol vehicles without burdening local taxpayers. The vehicles that were targeted for replacement out of reserves specifically set aside for that purpose can now be bought with federal dollars. That will leave the city money intact and eliminate theyneed to replace it with general fund cash.
The end result is the money may not have an impact on efforts to bridge next fiscal year’s deficit but it does help avoid those costs in the future.
Other budget cutting
measures being pursued
The city is pursuing several options in the police operations to help cover the $11.3 million deficit including leaving 14 positions vacant.
One option has the city going into the impound yard business.
Manteca Police order the towing and impounding of upwards of 14 vehicles a day. Sometimes those vehicles have a mandatory impound of 30 days and can cost in excess of $1,000 for the owners to retrieve.
Presently the city farms tow calls out to various private towing firms. There are times where officers will wait for over an hour for a tow truck to show up. As the system now works, the private tow firms charge and collect the storage as well as towing fees. If the city took over towing, it wouldn’t change its policy that is allowed under state law. There are cities that don’t impound all vehicles they are allowed to do under the law.
The cars that are impounded typically are seized from those driving on either a suspended license or without a license or else intoxicated drivers. State law allows the cars to be impounded for up to 30 days allowing the tow company to collect both the daily impound charge — around $30 — plus towing costs before the driver can get their vehicle back.
Among the steps the department is taking or options they are exploring include:
• Charging the City of Lathrop more for use of animal control shelter.
Lathrop contracts animal control shelter. Lathrop pays for 17 percent of the cost of the shelter but actually uses 26 percent of the shelter space. Another option could be to drop the contract with Lathrop to increase space for Manteca animals. Such a move would delay having to build an expensive replacement animal control shelter. That way the city could place a portable building for office use and remodel where offices are in the present shelter for additional kennels.
• Residential burglary alarm response charges.
The City Council has put in place a law requiring residential burglary alarms to be verified first by the alarm company before officers are dispatched or else start charging for each false alarm response. There are 3,500 residential burglary alarms that the department responds to each year. In those, 98.5 percent are false alarms. Each call typically ties up two officers for 26 minutes.
• Pumping new life Neighborhood Watch.
The chief has indicated the Neighborhood Watch effort has been allowed to go a bit to the wayside. He believes refocusing attention to it will help reduce neighborhood crime and department costs.
• Establishing Volunteers In Policing.
The department is getting ready to add a program for volunteers between the ages of 21 and 50 called Volunteers in Police Services (VIPS).
Bricker has said it is impossible to convey how effective volunteers — especially SHARPs – are in delivering services and doing tasks the department simply wouldn’t be able to do because of manpower and staffing.
• Adopt a Sound Wall.
The department is also exploring setting up an Adopt a Sound Wall program to encourage neighborhood residents to step forward to keep sound walls graffiti free.
The police department accounts for 40 percent of the general fund budget and spend just shy of $16 million a year.
Overall, personnel salaries and benefits represent 91 percent of the department’s budget.
There are 10 Measure M public safety police officers and two police officers paid for by the public safety endowment fund set up by developer. There are 128 personnel positions authorized of which 14 are vacant including three sworn officers. Leaving those positions vacant can save $850,000 to $1 million.
Manteca Unified School District pays $205,000 toward five school resource officers.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail dwyatt@mantecanbulletin.com





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