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Lathrop deploys extra undercover officers during holiday season to patrol city
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LATHROP – Those who are up to no good in Lathrop this holiday season, beware.

The city has deployed three extra sets of eyes – not Santa’s bespectacled visual organs to check if someone has been naughty or nice, but those belonging to law enforcement officers – to make sure residents can enjoy the holidays with less stress from the potential of becoming a crime statistic.

Two of these extra officers on patrol are undercover policemen who can spring up a surprise arrest any time someone runs afoul with the law. The third one is a patrol officer. One of the officers is a sergeant.

 “We did the same thing last year and it was very successful,” said Lathrop City Council member Sonny Dhaliwal of the temporary hiring of three policemen during the high-shopping season.

It was because of that success which prompted the city to launch the program again this year during the holidays when “crimes of opportunity are on the upswing,” said Dhaliwal during his speech at the United Bacarreneos of America’s annual fiesta celebration Saturday in the Scott Brooks Gymnasium of the Lathrop Community Center.

The city’s holiday policing project is funded by money that is part of the $4.5 million budget inked by the city and the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department for the fiscal year 2011-12. Bundled up in that spending plan that was approved is the amount of $130,000 specifically earmarked as overtime pay for officers, explained Dhaliwal. It is money that is set aside for overtime pay if the need arises, he added.

The funding to beef up police patrol around the city during the holidays did not need express approval and vote by the council because it is already part of the budget that has been approved by the city council, Dhaliwal said.

“It’s a pro-active approach” to any type of crime activity in the city, said Dhaliwal who attended the annual fiesta event with Lathrop Vice Mayor Chris Mateo.

Lathrop is the only city in San Joaquin County which contracts its police services with the Sheriff’s Office. The two government agencies’ policing partnership goes back to 1989 when Lathrop incorporated as a city. Prior to incorporation, Lathrop relied on the county Sheriff’s Office for its police services.