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Manteca can go all out to secure trash enclosure but not police station

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POSTED May 2, 2017 1:41 a.m.

The Manteca Police Department is a disgrace.
No, not the men and women that put their life on the line day in and day out to serve this community. I’m talking about the 39-year-old headquarters that re-defines crammed working conditions and has some serious security issues.
The police department is a hodge podge of buildings — portable and otherwise — that expose staff to the elements and other risks going from one part of the complex to another. They have two thirds the space of the new Fitness Evolution building at The Orchard Valley at The Promenade Shops and less bullet proof glass than a gas station on Interstate 5 near the Grapevine. You need a shoe horn to fit any more equipment into the dispatch center serving a city of 77,000 on the way to 125,700 residents. As for office space, let’s just say an inmate at the San Joaquin County Jail has more space when it comes to what more than a few offices at the police station provide.
It took years to get a new evidence building in place that was needed decades ago. The $1.2 million facility is being turned over this week by the contractor. Evidence is protected by bullet glass and 7-foot wrought iron security fence. The men and women that protect us deserve at least that much.
If public safety is indeed the top priority as we have been told repeatedly in city council election after city council election, then our elected leaders need to stop the talk and do the walk.
This should be a non-negotiable point for law-abiding voters: The city needs to put in place within six months a plan to build a new complex either at the Civic Center or a new location so they can start collecting growth fees to help pay for it. Given that it could take another 10 to 20 years to accumulate enough money and to find funds to cover the portion of the cost that legally can’t be charged off to new growth, the city needs to come up with a remodel that addresses the most egregious security issues.
That remodel needs to start no later than a year from now. At a minimum it should involve remodeling the lobby and replacing the 6-foot wrought iron fence securing the corridors between offices within the compound with block walls that provide minimum space between the roof top and the wall with security mesh over the remaining gap. If the city can spend $30,000 to do exactly that to secure the solar energy system electrical panels in the trash enclosure at the transit center they can do it for the police and their support staff.
The city is not as poor as they contend unless you refer to poor decisions to spend $50,000 on the whim of a now departed city manager for cotton candy in the form of branding the city with the goal of redoing a website that was overhauled nine months earlier when there were more pressing meat and potato needs.
I like 25 percent reserves as much as the next guy but I don’t want it as much as deplorable and serious security issues in the workplace of the men and women who are protecting us.
The city can pare back undistributed general fund reserves to 20 percent and take the $2 million and make remedial improvements at the police headquarters.
This will not be wasting money in a city that took 15 years to put in a dog park, vowed to build new library facilities 19 years ago, and has spent $6.8 million in property deals with nothing to show for it since 2002 to address what every city leader supposedly agreed were pressing issues with police headquarters two decades ago. In short, Manteca Police aren’t getting new digs anytime soon even though the city they protect has doubled in size since the headquarters building was first built and will grow by another 50,000 people over the next 23 years.
Reasonable steps need to be taken now and not later to address police facilities.
It shouldn’t have to take a tragedy to get things done.
Making all this more frustrating are the issues facing the police department aren’t unique.
Over the past 20 years there has been a lot of talk about all the wonderful things that growth will allow the city to do in terms of amenities and services for existing and future residents.
Instead of making it happen the city has dragged its feet. You can make a case depending upon the amenity in question that close to 7,000 more housing units have been added to Manteca that were never adequately charged for the needs they generated.
The classic example is the Public Facilities Implementation Plan fee for roads. Back in 2008 city staff informed elected leaders it was woefully inadequate for the major roads that would be needed. The council wanted movement on putting updated fees in place within six months. Eight and a half years later and the city still have yet to adopt a new fee that more than one council over the years has described as a “top priority.”
Our police officers do their job. Our city leaders need to do the same.

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