LATHROP – Debbie Rock knows a thing or two about law enforcement.
For more than three decades she’s been part of the security team at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory – serving as a member of the Special Response Team during her tenure and most recently as a Security Administrator Specialist in charge of supervising access to the nuclear wing of the complex. She is also married to a 30-plus year veteran of law enforcement.
It’s that experience – in a job that requires maintaining a professional presence and adhering to policy and procedures – that she believes would make her a valuable asset to the Lathrop City Council.
And it’s that experience that she feels gives her the understanding necessary to look for ways to save the city money in its current contract with the San Joaquin County Sherriff’s Department for police services in order to put more patrol officers on the street.
“Public safety is something that’s very important to me, and I know that in our current structure, the Chief is a captain and then there is a lieutenant and a sergeant and then the patrol officers,” she said. “In other contracts that I’m aware of, a lieutenant takes the role of the chief and the money that we would save there can go into putting more uniformed officers out on the street.
“I’m not saying anything about anybody’s job performance or anybody personally, I just think that it makes sense that way and it’s better for the community. We need to have our school resource officers and I know that we just did away with a detective’s position because the money wasn’t there. Maybe if we did it this way it would be.”
But her ideas on how to bring Lathrop into the future don’t end there.
Rock believes that bringing in new business – especially on the west side of I-5 – is a crucial key to the city’s future and overall financial stability.
She has strong feelings on making sure that the city and the school district have emergency preparedness plans in place for homeowners that purchased property within the flood zone. It is something that takes on a heightened sense of importance since the standard plan to dike the I-5 underpasses to protect Central Lathrop now affects hundreds of families that will have to find a way to evacuate.
And most of all, she wants to make sure that the one-cent sales tax increase that will be before voters in November gets all of the support that it needs to pass. Even though city officials can only educate the public on the measure, they’ve made it clear that the money generated is crucial to making sure that the city’s fiscal situation remains sound for years to come.
“There are a lot of important things that are on the horizon for Lathrop,” she said. “Some will have to be decided by the council and the voters will have to make the other decisions. But I think the public needs to understand that we’re stable right now and we’re not going to end up like other cities – like Stockton did.”
Rock said that she believes that council cohesiveness is a major issue, and thinks that her career in law enforcement will help her hold her own and allow her to “stand up” for what she believes in.
Not everything she sees, however, needs work.
While out walking neighborhoods to meet voters she said that she’s recognizing fewer homes in foreclosure than were noticeable before – a positive sign that things are turning around on the local housing front.
The core of local volunteers that keep non-profit programs humming along, she says, give the community its character and sets an example for future generations.
And while her busy work schedule and full household have confined her community activities to those that deal directly with her family – Little League and youth sports – she’s been involved with Relay for Life and will soon be a part of Lathrop High’s athletic boosters.
“I might not have been as high-profile as some, and that’s because when I would get off of work I would take care of my children’s needs and after school activities while my husband worked swing shift,” she said. “I was the Mom that needed to be home in the events for my children to make sure they got to their extra-curricular activities.
“But I have the time now and I think that it would be a great representative of this community and its residents.”
Rock lives in Lathrop with her husband John and their daughters Heidi and Stefanie. They have two older children – Paula and Johann.