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Lathrop could save $22M by having Tracy oversee police
Lathrop Police

If the City of Lathrop goes forward with the plan to contract with the City of Tracy to provide police services, it could end up saving the city a lot of money over a 10-year period.

Almost $22 million, to be exact.

That was the message from the City of Lathrop’s finance department last week in a presentation at a special workshop designed to inform the public of the costs associated with the transition and the steps in the process that could mark the end of the city’s relationship with the only policing service its known since it incorporated in 1989.

And a decision on whether the City of Lathrop will end their current contract for police services with the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office and sign a new one with the City of Tracy to provide police protection for the growing community could come as soon as this month.

According to the presentation, 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 the presentation, 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. 

And according to the presentation, the benefits of switching to Tracy will benefit both Lathrop and Tracy – allowing Lathrop cost savings and the ability to add additional officers at a lower cost while taking one step closer to autonomy while Tracy would receive an expanded dispatch center, be able to employ additional personnel and provide promotional opportunities for existing officers.

The decision on whether to approve the agreement, which would also require the approval of the Tracy City Council, could come by Lathrop’s elected officials later this month or in early July. If approved by both agencies, and all necessary recruiting goes as planned, the City of Tracy could be providing police services for Lathrop by as early as July 1, 2019.

But there will be initial costs that the City of Lathrop will have to shoulder in order to make the transition a reality.

With an estimated $3.95 million in overlap costs – the bulk of which will come from officer salaries – and an additional $1.3 million in building and equipment costs, including dispatch and records equipment and software, the total cost to the City of Lathrop to make the transition would be just over $5.25 million.

And then there’s the election.

Pat Withrow, who is challenging three-time San Joaquin County Sheriff Steve Moore for his seat in the upcoming June primary, has maintained the position that if elected he would beat Tracy’s offer to ensure that the longtime relationship between the city and the sheriff’s office can be maintained. Withrow, who was assigned to Lathrop in 1993, said that the community has a special place in his heart.

Moore, who has represented the Sheriff’s Office at several Lathrop council meetings when the contract was discussed, has defended the costs associated with the contract as what the county allows him to charge for the services that are provided.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.