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City Manager Karen McLaughlin has indicated the city is hoping to roll out a presence on social media later this summer using platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Nextdoor.com.
“It is imperative the city continually reach out to the residents in the best and most efficient way possible,” McLaughlin said. “Social media will be another tool that will enable the city to do just that.”
The social media push — as well as the hiring of two community resource officers for the Manteca Police Department to a degree — are part of an effort to step up outreach to the community on the neighborhood level. Before the recession hit, the city was gearing up to replicate a model in San Jose where municipal workers developed close working relationships in the neighborhoods they served so the city got a better understanding of needs and concerns.
“The previous plan would have required a significant amount of staff resources citywide,” McLaughlin noted. “Staff is not proposing working with a consultant to pursue new outreach efforts as was previously envisioned.”
Limited staff resources, McLaughlin noted, continues to be an issue.
Since 2010 Manteca’s population has grown by 10 percent while the workforce has been pared by 21 percent.
That said, McLaughlin said “the city still sees direct involvement with the community and individual neighborhoods as key to meeting the needs.”
To that end, the two new community resource officers in addition to concentrating on homeless issues will also work to enhance and expand the city’s successful Neighborhood Watch program.
“While the program has never gone away, staff will attempt to have more organized groups through the city,” McLaughlin noted. “Still, as always, we only want them to assist and be additional eyes are ears for the police Department.”
Roughly 18 years ago, Manteca made a concerted effort to add Neighborhood Watch groups. At the time, they were able to get neighbors to be more aware of their surroundings and report suspicious activity to police. What the city found was the influx of growth was breaking down the traditional cohesiveness of neighborhoods in Manteca where everyone knew their neighbors and their business.
That meant if a strange car was parked on the street or something looked amiss neighbors would notice it right away. National Night Out neighborhood parties were designed to help build and strengthen ties between neighbors.
McLaughlin said the game plan is to expand the use of community resource officers as needed.
The Manteca City Council has directed staff to hire two CROs in the coming months with their main duties initially being working on homeless concerns.