The Supreme Court has ordered the release of 32,000 state prisoners.
That’s on top of earlier prisoner transfers Gov. Jerry Brown has ordered moved to county jails.
The California Legislature has reduced court funding statewide by $350 million
There are cutbacks in the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s office.
Modesto and Stockton - that have some of the nation’s highest crime rates - have layed off a number of police officers with more possible in the coming months.
It is against that backdrop that Manteca Police Chief Dave Bricker said the 58 sworn officers serving and protecting the Family City are stepping up to the plate to keep Manteca as safe as possible.
“Our goal is to make it as uncomfortable as possible for criminals to operate in Manteca prompting them to go elsewhere,” Bricker.
The budget reductions and partial emptying of the prisons doesn’t mean hardcore felons – murders, rapists, and those who physically attack victims – will be getting off the hook. What it does mean is the remaining criminal justice system resources will be tied up more with crimes that are more serious leaving less manpower to prosecute and incarcerate lower level ones involving property.
“I’ve told my guys to keep arresting the bad guys and keep recovering stolen property,” Bricker said.
The police chief added if criminals are constantly being arrested for crimes they are more likely to look elsewhere to ply their trade.
Bricker noted Manteca has a smaller level of staffing than in late 2009 when 12 positions were eliminated. Even so, the remaining 58 sworn officers have made head way in reducing crime in Manteca through “solid police work and dedication to serving.”
The theory is simple. Criminals - much like water - will go to where there is the least amount of resistance.
Bricker said a large entourage of more than 200 volunteers from Seniors Helping Area Residents, explorers, and Police to reserves as well as Community Emergency Response Team members and Volunteers in Police Service are helping free up sworn officers from as many other tasks as possible so they can concentrate on crime calls.
The police chief said the current situation makes citizen participation in Neighborhood Watch Groups all that more critical.
Longtime Neighborhood Watch Group coordinator Rex Osborn is being “bumped” to a position elsewhere in city administration. Bricker said the goal is to have the staffer who will be in charge of organizing and coordinating citizens groups to step in without missing a beat.
Bricker said the fact police officers have stepped up to make the necessary compensation concessions to avoid additional layoffs is a big plus for Manteca. The chief noted officers understood what was at stake in terms of public safety and that the city simply didn’t have the money.
Bricker added the budget is now at such a point that when expected retirements occur in the coming year the city will be able to replace them.
“Hopefully, we can bring some of the guys back that were laid off,” Bricker said.
While the legal time period to give them automatic rehire rights lapses in October, Bricker is hoping to implement scoring rules that gives applicants that have worked on Manteca’s crime beats additional points in the interview process.