As reported yesterday, achieving a net gain of 120 police officers over three years — as called for by Measure A — will be a daunting task for the city, which is not exactly what voters want to hear after approving the three-quarter cent sales tax last year.
The tax went into effect April 1; the police department is hoping the first Measure A officer will be hired in August. The department is only 12 officers larger than it was a year ago at this time. Before a Measure A officer can be hired, the department has to increase its size from the current 358 to 365.
Police Chief Eric Jones says that to achieve a net gain of a single officer, the department basically has to hire two because of the force’s rate of attrition.
And if a Measure A officer is hired next month, you may not even notice for some time. Jones said when officers are hired they go onto the city’s books, but if they are green they are sent off to a police academy for six months. Or they may have finished their work at an academy but need another six months of field training in Stockton before they are ready to go it alone.
“We have a very strong hiring machine working,” Jones said. “We’re working very hard on diversity recruitment and recruitment in general.”
At a meeting last week of the Measure A oversight committee, Jones was asked to put a “percentage” on how confident he is the city will achieve its goal of a net gain of 120 officers in the next three years.
“The reason I’m not able to give that percentage is there are too many variables and unknowns that change on a daily basis,” Jones said. “An example is us now having to wait until October for the approval of whether the exit strategy for the bankruptcy is going to go through.”
The biggest problem is that the “hemorrhaging” of officers departing the force continues.
“Unfortunately we’re still facing departures,” Jones said. “It’s very difficult. There is still some instability going on. We’re still not market rate. That’s an ongoing issue. We’re still losing officers to other police agencies. We’re doing everything we can within the department with internal morale. It’s going to be difficult, to be quite frank.”
Here’s a look, from the archives of The Record, at the ongoing effort to increase the number of sworn peace officers in the Stockton Police Department:
Late 2012: 331 sworn officers.
April 2, 2013: 334.
June 3, 2013: 330.
July 17, 2013: 346.
Jan. 18, 2014: 355.
June 17, 2014: 351.
July 18, 2014: 358.
Net gain/loss: +27.
Non-Measure A budgeted positions: 365.
Measure A targets
June 30, 2015: 405 (+47).
June 30, 2016: 445 (+87).
June 30, 2017: 485 (+127).