The tax that’s not delivering

Were citizens snookered by Measure A’s promise to fund 120 police?

Some people think so. Stockton leaders touted 40 new cops a year until 120 was reached. Based on that figure, and a frightening wave of homicides, citizens rose above their mistrust over the city’s bankruptcy and voted to tax themselves despite their personal financial challenges.

They sacrificed for the good of the city.

But the 40 police hires a year is not happening. That raises legitimate questions, questions well expressed by taxpayer watchdog Dave Renison in today’s story:

“I know (Police Chief) Eric Jones said it was a tall order (to hire so many new officers), but not too much of that was mentioned during the Measure A campaign,” Renison said. “Why was hiring 120 extra officers such a slam dunk prior to (the) Measure A (election) and now it’s a difficult, tall order?

“(Stockton’s) bankruptcy hasn’t changed. The attrition rate hasn’t changed.”

It appears Measure A’s creators confused funding new police with hiring new police. They were right that the city has been unable to lick its crime problem because its police force was understaffed. Just realizing that much shattered years of inertia and pointed towards a solution.

And Measure A dovetails with the Marshall Plan, the best piece of government to come out of City Hall in decades.

Ironically, though, Measure A itself appears to have been poorly thought out.

If police lose one cop for every two hired, as Chief Jones says in the story, then the SPD will not staff up at a rate of 40 a year for four years but 20 a year over eight years. Citizens will get the desired police force not around 2018 but 2022. Given that distant relief, it is doubtful Measure A would have passed.

City leaders owe the public an explanation. Why didn’t they see this coming?

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  • Blog Author

    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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