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Cantu wants three more traffic officers now, rest of council wants to see more data first
A Manteca Police officer issues a ticket for a moving violation.

Manteca Police will have a fifth dedicated traffic officer on the streets by January.

As far as Mayor Ben Cantu is concerned that is not enough. And given the fact 23 of the 29 people killed in accidents on city streets since 2009 have lost their lives in the last five years Cantu might be right.

He wants the City Council to dip into undesignated reserves to create an ongoing cost of roughly $450,000 a year to hire three more police officers for the traffic enforcement unit. Fellow council member Gary Singh cautioned that the city might not be able to fund such an ongoing expense if the economy slows which could force the city into the positon of having to lay off officers again as the city did 11 years ago.

Fellow council members Tuesday — on a night were residents shared stories that are becoming commonplace involving the wanton running of red lights, wholesale ignoring of stop signs, speeding, and drivers shouting and flipping off other motorists — were able to convince Cantu to wait a meeting or so to make a motion to that effect until they have statistics going back 10 years on traffic accidents and the number of ticket issued.

The council was provided a snippet of traffic accidents and tickets issued going back to 2014 by the police department. What they weren’t shown was how many tickets were issued for moving violations — running red lights, rolling through stop signs, failing to yield, and speeding – that are the main factors in most accidents. They also did not ask for another key statistic — Manteca’s growth that also would mean a rise in vehicles on city streets.

The 11-year trend shows the last five years, however, have been the deadliest on city streets with 23 traffic fatalities from 2015 to 2018 compared to 6 in the previous six years.

Manteca population during that time went up 28.8 percent from 65,993 to an estimated 85,000 today while overall accidents went up 37.6 percent going from 675 to 929 while injury accidents soared 87.3 percent going from 119 to 223. There were no fatalities in 2009. There were 2 fatalities in 2018 and 6 so far this Meanwhile tickets issued for moving violations plummeted 57 percent. The year 2009 was the last time Manteca Police had five officers dedicated to traffic enforcement. Manteca started 2019 with three officers. As of July 1 the traffic unit had four officers.

When 2020 starts, staffing will again be at the same level it was in 2009 despite Manteca having 19,007 more residents with a  similar increase in vehicles.

In 2018, there was an average of 2.5 accidents a day.

During the 11-year period Manteca has 29 traffic deaths and 23 homicides. Aggravated assaults where people were issued during the same time period numbered 967 while traffic accident injuries reached 1,685.

No timetable was given for when the Manteca Police Department will present the data that council members convinced Cantu they needed to see before they are willing to go on record with a vote on Cantu’s proposed motion to add three more traffic officers.

 To contact Dennis Wyatt, email