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Manteca leaders make it clear: All top five priorities for 2024-20-5 budget year will improve public safety
Lathrop road
This was a section of Lathrop Road before it was reconstructed in 2020.

The “top” priority for the Manteca City Council going into budget workshops for the fiscal year starting in July 1 is infrastructure.

But as far as Councilman Charlie Halford is concerned, infrastructure is actually another way of saying public safety.

Halford said that also goes for the No. 2 priority of economic and development vitality, the No. 4 priority of expanding homelessness and housing options plus solutions, and the No. 5 priority of stabilizing city finances.

The No. 3 priority, for the record, is public safety per se.

Halford is not blowing political smoke.

His outlook on what constitutes public safety is no different than what he espoused while serving as the city’s police chief.

And it a position that every police chief — at least as far back as Willie Weatherford — has staked out as well.

Perhaps the police chief who most stridently pushed that view was Dave Bricker.

He was serving as police chief in 2008 when a citizens budget committee appointed by the council toyed with the idea of recommending severe cuts to the city’s parks and recreation budget in  order to save police officer positions during the Great Recession when the housing crisis caused property tax receipts to tank.

Bricker stressed the city could ill afford to sacrifice other city services to pump up police staffing.

Bricker pointed out back then recreation programs have long been seen as a proactive way by those law enforcement of reducing the potential for future crime.

It is why many departments form Police Athletic Leagues.

In Manteca’s case, the department has a storied history of stepping up to launch youth sports leagues through the Boys & Girls Club in its initial two decades. That effort, as well as other club activities, was credited by Manteca civic leaders with more than a 30 percent reduction in juvenile crime at the time.

Bricker was quoted at the time as also saying well-maintained streets reduce accidents and therefore are part of the city’s public safety effort. He also noted the library was critical in helping some adults gain literacy skills which in turn helps prevent future crime.

Halford stressed the same points last week when the council adopted the budget priorities.

He also pointed out addressing homeless issues helps reduce crime problems.

And as far as economic development and fiscal stability, the former police chief said those are essential for a city to have a solid and growing revenue base critical to fund police and fire as well as other services that contribute to public safety.

“They is really no priority that is No.1 ,” Halford said, noting they all will be given the lion’s share of the city’s attention.

It is a position that Councilman Jose Nuno embraced as well.

“Everything is interconnected (when it comes to public safety),” Nuno said.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email