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Sheriff elect wants to help Lathrop form own force

San Joaquin County Sheriff-Elect Pat Withrow might not be able to match the Tracy Police Department’s proposal for the contract to provide policing services for the City of Lathrop, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a plan.

After successfully lobbying the Lathrop City Council for an additional month to pull together a proposal that would save the longstanding relationship between the city and the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department, Withrow will make his pitch on Monday, August 13, in an attempt to prevent the city’s leaders from taking the standing offer from its neighboring city.

And he’s pushing hard for the city to stand on its own two feet.

Based on an informational item that was included in the council’s packet that was posted to the City of Lathrop’s website Friday afternoon, Withrow appears to be making the case that the city should be looking towards creating its own independent police department rather than relying on a different municipality as they take incremental steps towards that long-term goal.

The potential service agreement terms note that Withrow’s proposal replicates “all of the current services provided by San Joaquin County” and that “the City of Lathrop would provide law enforcement officers, as possible, to supplement the Sheriff’s Office personnel.”

Under the proposal the city could choose to adhere to the longstanding way of choosing a police chief – where the City Manager and the Sheriff jointly agree on the appointment of an existing Sheriff’s Office employee – or they could hire their own. The city would still be responsible to cover all expenses incurred by the San Joaquin County Sherriff to execute the contract, and that level of service would still be determined by the City of Lathrop in consultation with the Sherriff and subject to the city’s budget authority.

Essentially, the city would be able to, over the course of a minimum three-year contract, start hiring their own police officers that would be City of Lathrop employees at a rate almost equal to that of Tracy’s contract – starting with 3 reserve police officers on the city’s payroll for the 2017/18 calendar year, and upping that to five police officers for 2018/19.

Using Withrow’s model, the city would save the more $5.2 million in upfront startup costs they would have to shell out to help the City of Tracy upgrade its dispatch capabilities – money that the city would never get back in terms of service, and would only recoup after the full completion of the initial contract.

According to Withrow’s proposal, Lathrop would actually end up paying more than $11.4 million next year for policing services if they go with Tracy because of the transition costs associated with making the switch. While Tracy’s projected costs are significantly lower – $6,046,146 projected for the 2017/18 contract compared to the $7,666,903 being proposed by Withrow – on an annual basis, it would take multiple years to break even from the initial startup costs with Tracy’s proposal, and at the completion of the contract the city would be starting over from scratch when it comes to starting its own police department.

The city could save $561,000 by hiring its own reserve police officers – based off of an annual salary and benefit total of $143,257 compared to the Sheriff’s Office total of $196,828 – and could start accruing personnel to make the transition to a new department that much easier when the contract expires.

Dispatch services, records management and evidence management would all be included as part of the ongoing Sheriff’s Office contract.

The 28 sworn personnel that would be included in the new contract with the Sheriff’s Office would be broken up into two shifts – A and B – and would include a sergeant, a field training officer, a community impact team or K9 officer, and either five or six sheriff’s office patrol officers per shift. Each shift would also include either one or two Lathrop reserve police officers.

The special assignment designations would include two motorcycle officers, a detective, a community resource officer and a school resource officer, and administratively would be overseen by a sheriff’s office captain serving as police chief (or a Lathrop hire) and a lieutenant.

Just this summer the City of Lathrop reached an agreement with River Islands to construct a state-of-the-art police station that will serve the community as it undergoes a period of sustained growth.

The City of Lathrop is urging the council to move forward with the contract with the City of Tracy, which could save Lathrop upwards of $22 million over a 10-year period if the relationship were to last that long.

According to previous numbers provided to the council, the City of Lathrop would spend $8.56 million next year according to its current contract with the sheriff’s office – if additional personnel are added in order make the comparison feasible – while the same service from the City of Tracy would cost the city just under $6.3 million. As part of the contract, costs for the City of Lathrop with San Joaquin County are set to increase every year – 4 percent for insurance, and 7 percent for retirement. Tracy’s annual escalators are slightly higher for insurance, at 5 percent, but significantly lower for retirement, at only 2.5 percent.

The cost of hiring new officers is also significantly cheaper if the city goes with Tracy. According to a past presentation made to the council, it costs nearly $300,000 to hire a new officer, almost $195,000 of which is the salary of that officer. A new recruit through Tracy is only $160,257, while an academy graduate is $83,629 and a lateral hire is $47,815. 

The Lathrop City Council is scheduled to meet on Monday, Aug. 13 at 7 p.m. at Lathrop City Hall – located at 390 Towne Centre Drive. For additional information, or to view the agenda for the upcoming meeting, visit the City of Lathrop’s website at

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.