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Back police & live within means
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Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
My name is Suzanne Anderson, (I am) a concerned citizen that believes that people are not disposable and that there must be a way to balance our budget without compromising public safety.  

I moved to Manteca 5 years ago because it is “The Family City”. I could have chosen any city. However, having done some research, I chose Manteca due to its size, crime rates, and family values.

This city has changed, even in the short time that I have lived here, I have two children attending schools within Manteca. The fact that they can’t wear more than one item of red or blue clothing should be an alarming indication of the gang activity within our city.

More and more families are having to seek secondary employment to make ends meet in this economy. They are having to leave their homes and their children unattended for extended periods of time.

(This gives) criminals more opportunity to target absentee homeowners and their homes, while providing children with less supervision thus increasing the likelihood of them getting into trouble and/or dangerous situations.  

I have been on several ride-alongs with the Manteca Police Department. If you think you have an understanding of what these men and women do every day, think again. Unless you have experienced it first hand, you will never have even a glimmer of understanding of what these people do every day.

They show up at all hours of the day and night regardless of how frivolous the call. They risk their lives; every stop, every day, without question for an estimated $100,000 a year. I know retail managers and city clerks that make more than that with far less risk.

It was not until I was a rider one night that I began to understand the danger of this job. It was a routine traffic stop and I was bored.  We had pulled over a car full of kids without their lights on. It was not until I heard the officer yell “Do not reach for that gun” that my head snapped up. I saw the officer with his hand on his gun ready to draw if needed, my heart began to pound, all I could think was “oh my god, what do I do if he gets shot?” “How do I use the radio to call for help?” How do I protect myself?”. Thankfully, I did not have to find out the answer to these questions. The response from the PD was immediate and reassuring and the situation was quickly diffused.  

Will the outcome be the same if we fire 16 officers? I for one am not willing to find out?

I also work in Manteca as a charge nurse in the Kaiser Emergency Room. In the past 5 years I have seen an increase in the amount of patients we see due to violence within our city.

I have called MPD for assistance on more than one occasion and every time, the PD has responded and ensured the safety of our staff without regard to their own safety.  

Within the last few years I have arranged to have a boy with massive head injuries flown out after having his head smashed in with a baseball bat at school. I have treated a 13 year old that was hit in the face by a board while walking home from school. More recently, I sat with the family of a murder victim as they attempted to make sense out of why, despite the speed in which officers arrived, their loved one had died due to the stab wounds her husband inflicted while her children watched.
In addition to being there for her family, I spoke with the officer who felt guilty because he had not been able to get to the victim in time. I was the one that brought him breakfast as he sat in the ER waiting for the coroner.

Why... I brought the officer breakfast, because he was in the ER when I arrived for my shift that morning, had been all night, had not yet eaten, and because he is my husband.  

Believe me when I tell you that you have no idea what these men & women do every day.

I thought I had moved to “The Family City”.  However, thanks to being married to a police officer and due to my job, I can also tell you about the local homeless population, for which there is no shelter, the town drunks, the Nortenos & Sorenos, and the drug & alcohol problems within our schools. Ignorance may be bliss, but I no longer wear those blinders. I see this city for what it is every day.

Are you aware that Lathrop, with a population of 18,000 has 27 sworn officers? That’s one officer per 666 people. Manteca currently has 72 officers, one per 723 people. The cuts you are proposing would make it one officer per 1288 people in Manteca. How long do you expect it to remain the “Family City” once families start leaving due to the city’s inability to protect its residents?

As for the finances:
I have a budget and have learned to live within my means. When an unexpected expense occurs, I use savings. Although I may not have been saving for that expense, I buckle down and do what’s needed. I do not tell my creditors “I’m sorry but I don’t have funds allocated for that expense”.

The city council has the same fiduciary responsibility to this city. The council needs to revisit the budget, perhaps collect on the $140,000 of unpaid water bills that were written off, stop allowing Lathrop to use additional  animal shelter space without paying, and reconsider.

As I resident, I am telling you that it is not the city employees’ responsibility to pay for your inability to “live within your means”. Stop laying blame on everyone but yourselves, buckle down council members and do what’s needed!
Suzanne Anderson
Oct. 7, 2009