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Twin Cities Police at your service?
Study looks at possible consolidation of Manteca, Lathrop police services
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There’s a possible solution that could put Manteca’s 12 furloughed police officers back to work and at the same time provide less expensive police protection for Lathrop.

And as far as Manteca Police Chief Dave Bricker is concerned, it is a smart business move with the potential of improving law enforcement in Lathrop. He concedes, though, it could be challenging to pursue due to residual animosity from Manteca-Lathrop feuds predating Lathrop’s city’s incorporation 21 years ago that relatively few residents in either community remember.

The solution is to consolidate Manteca and Lathrop police services into one department that could have the same uniforms like Twin Cities Police in Marin County. Twin Cities is the same concept a consultant is mulling over for Manteca and Lathrop that the Marin County cities of Larkspur and Corte Madre have already implemented.

 “The two cities have many of the same concerns,” Bricker noted. “It is like one big community with railroad tracks running through it.”

Bricker added that criminals don’t respect city limits.

Bricker noted that he has discussed the possibility of considering consolidation informally with various Manteca city council members. He said none objected to exploring the possibility.

Forging a working relationship in some form with Manteca is just one of a number of options a consultant hired by the Lathrop City Council to consider law enforcement options for the city is researching. The council is expected to get the report in the coming weeks.

Lathrop’s elected leaders extended the contract with the county for another year effective July 1 while they explore various options. Ultimately the Lathrop council wants to have their own free-standing police department when the city is in a position to do so.

Other options for Lathrop include forming their own police department, partnering with Tracy, staying with the arrangement they have with the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department or, instead of consolidating police services with Manteca, to have Manteca contract with Lathrop similar to how the county is now doing.

The consolidating plan essentially would give the police chief 10 bosses - the five-member elected city councils in each community. Under either plan, there would still be a police station in Lathrop. There would be one dispatch center and one administrative structure that would save money.

“The sheriff department has been doing a good job,” Bricker said.

But the question facing Lathrop is how to control costs.

Should a SWAT team or other specialty unit be needed in Lathrop, it is dispatched from the county although it is not included in the city’s contract. As a result any specialty services such as a SWAT team are additional billings to Lathrop.

Bricker noted that would not be the case in a consolidation with Manteca. Any special law enforcement units city has whether it is the gang unit, traffic, SWAT, and such would be deployable in Lathrop as they would be in Manteca at no additional cost to Lathrop.

The police chief noted in the case of the gang unit he believes efforts to stem gang violence and related problems in both communities would improve. The biggest gang problems in the two communities are those in Lathrop clashing with those out of Manteca and vice versa. Those conflicts have led to a number of drive-by shootings.

Bricker envisions adding two more beats to cover Lathrop and assigning manpower accordingly. He believes even with the Lathrop council just eliminating three positions from its police services contract with the county, that consolidation with Manteca can cost Lathrop a lot less.

Bricker noted that with Lathrop’s current staffing levels 20 officers would be needed. Getting first shot at those would be the 12 Manteca officers that were laid off last October. He said there are a number of laid off police officers from other jurisdictions that reside in Manteca that would also be available as fairly quick hires plus already have a feel for the two communities.

“Lathrop’s consultant will present their findings and recommendation to their council,” Brick noted in a blog posting. “If at that time Lathrop wishes an in-depth proposal from us we will know what level of service they want. I have prepared several operational models depending on the type and level of service Lathrop requests. At that point I will develop a bid proposal and we will put together a committee to develop an expansion plan to assume Lathrop’s service. Even then, our proposal would have to be more desirable to Lathrop than remaining with the Sheriff or starting their own Department.

Bricker emphasized that everything is all conceptual at this point and no formal decision has been made on the part of elected leaders in Lathrop or Manteca to seriously consider consolidation.