The Lathrop City Council was all set to approve a budget that would have hired an additional traffic officer to help improve overall roadway safety throughout the community.
But at the last minute, they did something unexpected – they funded an additional one on top of the officer they were expected to.
During the budget workshop last week, the council decided that the need was great enough to hire not only another full-time traffic officer but also a flex position that can be used for traffic and patrol. The chief complaint in the community, according to Lathrop Police Chief Ryan Biedermann, continues to be traffic issues.
Both positions will be contracted through the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office at the rates established in the agreed upon contract – which for the always-planned officer was an annual cost of $211,420.
One of the two new officers will be paid for solely out of the general fund, while the other will be funded half from the general fund and half from Measure C – the one cent sales tax increase that was approved by voters in 2012.
While the initial hire will be a full-time traffic officer, the second will be hired as a flex position to give Lathrop brass the ability to determine where the highest need happens to be at a given time.
“The city is growing, and our law enforcement has to grow with it,” Lathrop Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal said. “We are fortunate that we are adding businesses that are generating more revenue, and Measure C is helping a lot also.
“It’s extremely important that city services keep up with growth because for every citizen our first priority needs to be safety – safe streets, safe parks, and safe schools.”
Under the direction of Biedermann, those officers will be put to good use.
After putting out a request on Facebook asking residents to respond to the intersection they would like to see policed more extensively in the community, Lathrop Police responded last Wednesday morning by conducting traffic operations at Lathrop Road and Cambridge Drive and River Islands Parkway and McKee Boulevard – issuing 30 citations and towing three vehicles in just several hours.
For several month Lathrop Police have enjoyed seven-day-a-week traffic officer coverage thanks to an overtime agreement that allows for a Sheriff’s Deputy to patrol in the community, but the hiring of an additional full-time traffic officer will mean that more of the intersection patrols that were on display on Wednesday can be in the cards.
The council also approved the purchase of an additional police car for the second officer that will be hired and help modernize the city’s existing fleet of units. An order is already in for the Tesla Model 3 that will be added to the motor pool – an attempt at cutting down on ongoing maintenance and fuel costs that generated quite a bit of attention when it appeared on a council agenda earlier this year.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.