Manteca Police — despite having two less officers than in 2011 when the city had 7,000 fewer residents and 5,000 less calls for service — shaved 8 seconds off response times in 2016 to calls where lives were in danger.
The Priority One calls took an average of 4 minutes and 27 seconds to respond to last year as opposed to 4 minutes and 35 seconds in 2015. Manteca had roughly the same number of Priority One calls each year — 214 in 2015 and 217 in 2016. Priority One calls can run the gamut from an active shooting, an altercation, an armed robbery in progress, or a serious injury accident.
Keeping on top of life threatening calls despite less manpower and more residents has been the top priority of three police chiefs — Dave Bricker, Nick Obligacion, and now Jodie Estarziau — since revenue shortfalls forced city cutbacks in 2010.
The department has managed to stay on top by relying on online reporting for “cold” property crimes that are typically thefts detected a fairly long time after the fact, constantly reevaluating manpower deployment to make sure officers are nimble in an emergency, and “sacrificing” other efforts.
By that the department in recent years has had to scale back drastically on crime prevention efforts including simply having officers available for general patrol instead of going from one call to another.
It has also meant Priority Two and Priority Three calls take even longer for an officer to respond.
Priority Two — property crimes where the suspects have long fled the scene or where private security has detained a shoplifting suspect as two examples — saw response times from 2015 to 2016 increase by 4 minutes and 44 seconds to 27 minutes and 2 seconds.
Priority Three — all other calls where an officer is requested — jumped by 4 minutes and 2 seconds to 51 minutes and 22 seconds.
Manteca Police handled 38,559 calls for service in 2016 compared to 36,923 in 2015. There were 33,031 calls for service in 2010.
Estarziau had requested four more patrol officers to help address increased calls and the need to reduce response times. Initially, the budget cobbled together by the finance department did not include additional staffing. The City Council, though, directed funding for a 66th police officer to be added. They also want to look at the status of revenue in January to see if a 67th officer can be funded at that time.
While encouraging people to use online reporting for petty theft and such, the chief said in the case of auto burglaries where there is a chance the department can lift fingerprints, calling for an officer — or a community service officer — to respond could help catch criminals.
That said the 51 minute plus wait for an officer in such a situation is only an average. It can take well over an hour or even longer depending upon staffing and whether there is a major call or Priority Two calls backed up.
There were 18,080 Priority Two calls in 2016 compared to 16,804 in 2015.
There were 8,551 Priority Three calls in 2016 compared to 7,851 in 2015.
By standard yardstick
Manteca is still 9 officers
short with 66 positions
Manteca has added almost 5,000 residents in the past five years.
The city’s police force in terms of sworn officers on the street has grown by just one position during the same time. Manteca — by the yardstick most jurisdictions use of one officer per 1,000 residents — is at least nine sworn officers short even with a 66th officer budgeted. That’s because the State Department of Finance puts Manteca’s population at 75,000.
The 2008-2009 city budget had funding for 83 sworn officers including 11 from the half cent public safety tax. The proposed spending plan for 2017-2018 has 65 sworn positions including 15 funding by the public safety tax. Manteca’s population in 2009 was just over 66,000 residents. Today Manteca is at 75,000. That is 7,000 more residents with 18 less sworn police officers.
Manteca never actually had 83 sworn officers due to vacancies and lag time that has traditionally been built into the system. If new positions are budgeted, the city typically waits until half way through the fiscal year before allowing departments to fill positions. The Great Recession’s impacts hit Manteca as 2008-2009 unfolded.
The city dropped to 55 sworn officers in the 2011-2012 budget. That number jumped to 59 the following year thanks to the city being able to add four more positions funded by the Public Safety Tax to bring those positions to the current level of 15 as well as fund four additions positions from the Public Safety Endowment Fund to restore a four-officer gang suppression unit. The endowment fund is expected to dwindle down to $2.1 million by June 30. It does not have new funding flowing into it. The 2012-2013 budget had six police positions funded by the endowment fund. The city has been slowly transferring them back into the general fund as city revenues rebounded. The proposed budget plan shifts the remaining three police endowment funded positions into the general fund.
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