The first permeant space expansion for the Manteca Police Department in nearly 40 years will be ready to move into next week.
Crews are putting the finishing touches on a 2,800-square-foot evidence building costing $1.2 million. It is allowing the department to store evidence as many other agencies have for years with separate secured rooms for guns and narcotics. The room for narcotics is designed with an air system that “seals” in the odors. Currently the processing of marijuana for evidence, as an example, creates smells that linger for hours
It also includes a large outdoor covered area where homeless belongings are held for 90 days to be claimed — 60 days longer than courts have mandated necessary. The items are then destroyed if not retrieved by the owners by the deadline. The reason why the area is appreciated is due to the homeless items often being riddled with vermin that the police staff then has to deal with when the parasites migrate when stored inside.
The existing 800-square-foot evidence building will be refurbished and brought up to code so it can be repurposed to help process and store evidence needed to be held onto for longer periods or indefinitely such as items associated with murder or rape cases.
Department members over the years have described the existing evidence building that is jammed with evidence as resembling what one might expect to see in a hoarder’s house.
The new evidence room will also have freezers and refrigerators for use when needed and an area to dry blood for proper storage. There is also a vault designed to store explosives such as illegal fireworks seized as evidence until such time they can be destroyed. Currently such items are placed in an outside cabinet at the police compound.
Evidence room has
higher level of security
compared to rest of complex
Ironically, the staff working in the evidence room will be better protected than those employees working in the lobby or elsewhere in the compound.
The new evidence room has bullet proof glass. The lobby doesn’t. There is even a gap between the customer service windows and the ceiling that can be breeched in the lobby. The need for a police station to be secure was driven home several years ago when a gunman drove to the Ripon Police Department at night and tried to shoot his way into the building where dispatchers were working but was stymied because the Ripon City Council has the foresight to provide a modern facility for their officers complete with bullet proof glass.
The evidence building is also secured by a decorative 7-foot wrought iron fence angled on top with points on the end much like what is being installed at the Manteca Library to secure the courtyard from homeless who illegally camp their at night.
The rest of the Manteca Police compound — specifically the part where staff works — is protected by a 6-foot security fence that is easier to scale than the 7-foot versions.
Unlike most cities that try to shelter their police departments in one building, the Manteca Police complex is a hodge podge of buildings that require the use of outdoor breezeways to move between. There are two original buildings composed of 17,000 square feet, a series of portable buildings, and the new and old evidence buildings.
As a result Manteca’s police headquarters doesn’t have as a high degree of security compared to nearby agencies such as Ripon, Lathrop, Tracy, and Oakdale.
With the new evidence building Manteca will have some 22,000 square feet. That compares to Turlock, a slightly smaller city that has 57,000 square feet it shares with that city’s department administration.
Manteca city leaders back in 2000 when Manteca had 49,258 residents — 26,000 less than it does today — determined that the police complex was inadequate. They originally made an effort to address it by looking at a plan to revamp the entire Civic Center but that was nixed for being too expensive.
Then in 2004, the city spent $2.6 million in redevelopment agency money to buy 8.07 acres fronting South Main Street in the Manteca Industrial Park between Wetmore Street and Industrial Park Drive for a future South County courthouse and Manteca Police headquarters complex.
City has nothing to show
for spending $6.2 million
for new police facilities
When the Superior Court judges backed out of a plan to build a South County satellite complex and instead divert available funds into building a new courthouse in downtown Stockton, the city dropped the South Main Street site
Then in April 2006 the City Council spent $3.6 million in redevelopment agency funds to purchase the 57,000-square-foot former Qualex film processing building at 555 Industrial Park Drive for the future home for the police department.
The second purchase was a dud as well since escalating costs connected to stricter earthquake standards for critical public safety structures prompted the city to drop that project.
Since then the state pulled the plug on redevelopment agencies forcing the city to prepare to sell both properties and split the proceeds with the state and other taxing agencies that rely on the general property tax rate that had been diverted ton fund RDA projects.
Not only has the city spent $6.2 million on new police facilities with nothing to show for it, the properties are expected to sell at auction for less than their purchase price..
Some staff over the years dismissed the impact as saying the expenditure didn’t impact the city’s general fund but the RDA bonds that financed the two purchases still have nearly 20 years left before they are retired that means thousands of homes and the other properties in Manteca are being taxed to pay off the money that was borrowed plus interest to purchase the two sites with nothing to show for it.
And because the city still has no plan in place for a new police headquarters as Manteca moves toward a population of 125,700 in 2040, they have not taken the necessary legal steps to put in place to charge growth for their fair share of any new police facility. The longer the city takes to get a plan for future police facilities in place the more of a shortfall there will be. That’s because new growth under state law can’t be burdened with costs they don’t create. Some may argue growth via the homes built since 2000 have impacted the city but once they are in place and occupied they become part of the existing city base and new growth can’t be charged with their “fair share” as well as their own.
In terms of permanent space for officers and support staff, Manteca is still making do with what was put in place in 1978 — some 39 years ago — when the city had 22,000 residents.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com