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City of Lathrop’s own police force debuts on July 1

In less than 90 days, the first officers ever to wear the Lathrop Police Department patch on their uniforms will hit the streets.

After years of talking about starting its own police department, the City of Lathrop made the decision last year to invest the money necessary to finally stand up its own inhouse law enforcement agency – kicking off a 15-month process that is set to culminate on July 1, 2022 when Lathrop officially takes over law enforcement duties from the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office.

According to the timeline prepared for the transition from the contracted law enforcement currently being provided by the sheriff’s office to the new agency, the month of April will primarily serve as the onboarding of the sworn staff that have been hired to fill out the department’s roster while the policies and procedures for the new agency are finetuned and prepared.

By next month the sworn personnel are expected to begin their department training, conduct team scenarios and teambuilding exercises, and go through firearms qualifications so that the month of June can be dedicated to finalizing the transfer of power and responsibility.

While the relationship between Lathrop and the sheriff’s office appeared frayed at the outset of the transition – Sheriff Pat Withrow claimed he didn’t know anything about the decision that the council was considering, and subsequently requested that the Board of Supervisors cancel the contract – the City is planning on having an event in June thanking the men and women who have tirelessly served the residents of Lathrop for more than three decades.

The rest of June will also include a dedication for the new police department in River Islands – located just across the Bradshaw’s Crossing bridge in a location that will be geographically in the middle of Lathrop when all approved development is built out – as well as a community and family open house.

And the Lathrop Police Department is already doing what it can to allow the community to shape the department that will eventually become.

After announcing the hire of Raymond Bechler as the city’s first ever inhouse Police Chief, the city announced the hiring of Kyle Oki and Stephen Sealy as the commanders that will work with Bechler in an administrative capacity. The three men were on hand at a number of meet-and-greet events earlier this year so that they could meet residents of the community that they will serve and hear input about issues that residents themselves feel are important for the new agency to focus on.

While the move to start the department will initially cost the City of Lathrop millions of dollars – as more officers come onboard over the course of the next two months, the city will be paying their salary as well as those of the officers currently assigned to Lathrop by the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office, for example – the city feels that ultimately the transition to its own police department will save tens of millions of dollars over the next several decades.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.