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Lathrop hires consultants to recruit police staffing
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The work to formally recruit the members of the new Lathrop Police Department is officially underway.

The Lathrop City Council voted unanimously to authorize city staff to sign a master consulting services agreement with CPS HR Consulting to begin the recruiting work necessary to start forming the first ever city-ran law enforcement agency in the more than 30 year history of the city.

The proposal before the council was the overall agreement to use CPS HR as well as two task orders – one for $40,000 to recruit a police chief that will build the department from scratch, and another for $265,000 to recruit an HR director, lieutenants, sergeants, a management and crime analyst, a police services manager, a records supervisor, a community service officer, sworn police officers, and records assistants.

The cost of recruiting and hiring the non-chief positions is expected to cost Lathrop $150,000 with $39,000 set aside for the fees related to assessment centers, $28,000 for the cost of oral interviews, $4,000 for exam materials, $39,000 for general consulting and $5,000 for reimbursable expenses.

Lathrop is projected to pay approximately $9 million next year to the County of San Joaquin per the longstanding contract that the city has had with the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office to provide services to the residents of Lathrop – an agreement that has been in place since the city incorporated more than 30 years ago.

And it isn’t the first time that Lathrop has taken steps to walk away from the longstanding partnership – citing the rising cost of officer retention and the high cost of the county’s pension system as the chief reasons behind thee move for something more sustainable.

Lathrop believes that it can hire more police officers and staff than they can afford under the current contract but has faced some pushback from members of the sheriff’s office that believes that the city isn’t taking all of the associated costs into account, let alone the experience that the agency has in the area and the ability that they have to pull resources from other parts of the county when necessary.

While Lathrop utilized the services of Municipal Resource Group in the past when considering a change of contract to the City of Tracy in 2018 and brought them back this year to help determine the feasibility of starting an in-house department, the move to CPS HR for the recruitment and retention of qualified sworn and non-sworn personnel will mark the beginning of the official search for those that will wear the badge of the City of Lathrop’s own police department for the first time.

“CPS HR consulting is a client-centered human resources and management consulting firm specializing in government and non-profit clients,” the city wrote in the staff report for the agenda item. “As a self-supporting public agency, they understand the unique needs of the public sector and have served as a trusted colleague to clients across North America for more than 30 years.

“CPS HR’s client list includes federal, state, county, and city governments, special districts, and non-profit organizations.”

Monday’s decision at the meeting came after a raucous opening where San Joaquin County Sheriff Pat Withrow told the council that he would not contract with the city as long as City Manager Steve Salvatore was in that position – drawing a sharp rebuke from the Vice Mayor as well as the City Attorney and a terse back-and-forth with Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal where the two disagreed on basic elements of how the longstanding partners arrived at this point.

According to MRG, who is helping to facilitate the structural changes needed to implement a new public safety department, a new chief could be on the city payroll as early as September of this year – giving that person the ability to select their command staff and begin searching for officers that will patrol Lathrop’s streets. Staff recruiting could begin as early as January of next year with officers being sworn in as early as April of 2022 if the timeline is met.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.