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Manteca continues to press its luck with Stretch Armstrong approach to police staffing
police chart


Fasten your seat belts.

Make sure you’ve got adequate collision coverage.

Clip discount coupons for wheel alignments.

Take your heart medicine.

Say your prayers.

Take a deep breath.

Now you’re as ready as can be.

Take a ride on the wild side.

Head down Yosemite Avenue, if you dare.

Or any other arterial in Manteca for that matter.

Ignore traffic lights.

You have to.

Green is no longer green.

It means prepared to be hit.

Credit that to rampant red light running.

Stop signs?

Who needs them.

If people bothered to do illegal California rolling stops it would be safer.

Text and drive?

Apparently it’s a right enshrined in the constitution.

Left turns at will mid-block on major streets?

It’s a Manteca birthright.


They’re the six traffic officer for speed enforcement.


Collateral damage.


How dare they exist.

Speed limits?

They’re for wimps.

Turn signals?

Apparently they’re optional equipment on cars these days.

Look at the chart with this column.

It’s a recap of 14 years of death, carnage and chaos on Manteca’s streets.

Manteca’s population is up by 36 percent.

It was 65,953 in 2009.

It’s on the cusp of 90,000 today.

Traffic accidents are up 60 percent.

There were 675 in 2009.

There were 1,080 in 2022.

Tickets issued for moving violations are down 40 percent.

Manteca Police issued 2,511 in 2009.

Manteca police issued 1,507 in 2022.

See the trend?

More people, more accidents.

Less tickets issued, more accidents.

Five MPD traffic officers in 2009

Five MPD traffic officers today.

Same number of officers, 40 percent less moving violation tickets.

Doesn’t seem right.

Are officers more lenient today?

Or are they being pulled away for other tasks?

Perhaps a combination of both.

Why that might be the case is obvious.

In 2008, Manteca had 72 officers with 5 dedicated to traffic.

Today, Manteca has 76 officers with 5 dedicated to traffic.

Four more officers with 34,000 more people.

Forget aiming for 1 officer per 1,000 residents.

That’s one officer per 8,500 residents when  it comes to growth since 2008.

We squawk about the politics of defunding the police.

From the looks if it, though, Manteca has been defunding the police for years.

It’s a minor miracle that MPD has done what it has.

But how many more ways can the city stretch its police resources.

Even the 1970s action toy Stretch Armstrong has its snapping point.

Anyone want to argue there are too many officers in Manteca?

That must be the case, though, considering our collective stance.

Hiring more police, of course, takes money.

Money that the city doesn’t have.

Property taxes and sales taxes are increasing.

But if we’re being honest, they are essentially holding the line.

Growth does fund new positions.

But it is to simply keep service levels that are now in place.

Here’s the problem.

And it may sound like channeling former Mayor Ben Cantu.

Manteca dug a hole years ago.

They did so for an extended period of time when growth didn’t pay its way.

It is a deficit rooted in the 1970s and 1980s.

It is not being dug deeper by buyers of new homes today.

There is only one way to cover lost ground.

We need a new tax.

Before you start hyperventilate, look at the chart accompanying this column.

Then drive city streets.

Do you like where this is heading?

This is not mismanagement of city funds by the current council.

It is not dereliction of duty by current municipal staff.

Manteca is the only full-service city in the region.

Yet it functions on the lowest per capita general fund in the area for cities over 30,000 residents.

That said, the current council is not off the hook.

Knowing what they know, they have a fiduciary responsibility.

They need to propose a sales tax for voters to consider in  2024.

The time has passed for saying “the time isn’t right” to ask.

There are no spending cuts that will get us out of the hole.

There are no grants that will do the trick for ongoing expenditures such as police salaries.

There are no benevolent corporations willing  to subsidy Manteca with blank checks.

There is no free lunch.

We know that a ½ cent sales tax is enough to pay for 18 firefighters and 18 police officers.

Without the public safety tax, Manteca would have 54 officers and likely no dedicated traffic unit.

No Measure M funds would mean the city would have only 27 firefighters.

That would mean two of the five fire stations would have to be closed.

Imagine how safe Manteca would be with 18 less police officers and 18 less firefighters.

What is happening on the streets now would be tame in comparison.

Another half cent sales tax would put our tax on the same level as Lathrop

Now ask yourself what difference 18 more police or 18 more firefighters can make?

Better yet, how about 9 more police and 9 more firefighters?

That alone coupled with other initiatives  would almost get us to 1 officer per 1,000 staffing.

Then the other “half “ of a ½ cent sales tax increase could go to improving existing roads.

Imagine what $4.5 million a year could mean to Manteca’s streets.

That’s three times the amount  a year than what the city can now afford to spend to address pavement issues.

Lathrop’s sales tax is at 8.75 cents.

Manteca’s sales tax is at 8.25 cents.

Make the voter-imposed portion of the sales tax a full penny.

That reflects a half cent increase to 8.75 cents.

On a $20 taxable purchase, it will cost a dime more.

The council needs to advance a sales tax measure.

A measure with an ironclad spending plan.

A measure that adds a half cent.

The time is way overdue.

Make Manteca whole.


This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at