Sher­iff Moore chal­lenger in­fers Lathrop is get­ting raw deal from SJ

Ripon Bulletin - - Front Page - Withrow By JA­SON CAMP­BELL

The Lathrop City Coun­cil has yet to make a for­mal de­ci­sion about which di­rec­tion they want to go when it comes to pro­vid­ing po­lice pro­tec­tion to the city of more than 22,000 res­i­dents.

But the man try­ing to un­seat long­time San Joaquin County Sher­riff Steve Moore is ask­ing that they wait a lit­tle bit longer – un­til June to be ex­act – be­fore they cast any­thing into stone.

For­mer San Joaquin County Sher­iff’s Depart­ment Sergeant Pat Withrow – who un­suc­cess­fully chal­lenged Moore in 2014 – spoke dur­ing the pub­lic com­ment por­tion of Mon­day’s Lathrop City Coun­cil meet­ing, plead­ing with the body to

hold off of fi­nal­iz­ing a con­tract with a ri­val agency un­til af­ter the elec­tion.

Withrow, who spent 10 years as­signed to Lathrop dur­ing his ten­ure with the sher­iff’s of­fice, said that once he’s elected he would be will­ing to of­fer the city a con­tact that could beat the of­fer sub­mit­ted by neigh­bor­ing Tracy – sav­ing them mil­lions of dol­lars in startup costs and still re­tain­ing the long­time re­la­tion­ship and fa­mil­iar­ity that elected of­fi­cials have known.

“If you’ve been watch­ing the news re­cently, and if you’ve seen our data, then you’d know that the cur­rent Sher­riff will be voted out of of­fice in June,” Withrow said. “Please don’t let one dis­hon­est of­fi­cial change what has been go­ing on in Lathrop for years now.

“Don’t let one bad ap­ple change all of the good things that have been built.”

Cur­rent As­sis­tant Sher­riff Phil Green, who was in at­ten­dance at Mon­day’s Lathrop coun­cil meet­ing, de­ferred com­ment­ing on Withrow’s state­ment to Moore – adding that the Sher­riff hadn’t been made aware of the com­ments that were made.

The con­tention stems from the city’s de­ci­sion to hire Mu­nic­i­pal Re­source Group – a con­sult­ing firm ran by a re­tired po­lice of­fi­cer – to ex­am­ine the city’s cur­rent con­tract with the Sher­riff’s of­fice and com­pare it to what neigh­bor­ing agen­cies would charge the city for sim­i­lar ser­vices. The “un­sus­tain­able” costs associated with the con­tract – in­clud­ing a $500,000 an­nual fee for over­head ex­penses, and one-time ini­tial hir­ing costs for deputies ex­ceed­ing $250,000 – spurred the re­newed fo­cus for Lathrop, which has been in con­tract with the Sher­riff’s of­fice since it was in­cor­po­rated in 1989, to pur­sue other op­tions.

While the City of Man­teca was con­sid­ered due to its prox­im­ity and the close re­la­tion­ship that the two cities share, a lack of in­ter­est in pur­su­ing a con­tract and other is­sues like space and sup­port costs make a part­ner­ship un­likely to move for­ward – leav­ing neigh­bor­ing Tracy as a vi­able op­tion.

When con­tacted by the con­sul­tants, Tracy beat the cur­rent con­tract by half in some re­spects while main­tain­ing the same level of ser­vice that is cur­rently en­joyed.

But the costs of part­ner­ing with a new agency, and the startup costs for hir­ing and train­ing new of­fi­cers as well as ex­pand­ing sup­port po­si­tions nec­es­sary to fa­cil­i­tate such a move, would re­quire a mas­sive fi­nan­cial com­mit­ment.

Withrow, who said that Lathrop was “near and dear” to him af­ter the time that he spent work­ing in the com­mu­nity, be­lieves that there is still a way to sal­vage the re­la­tion­ship and give Lathrop res­i­dents the pro­tec­tion they de­serve at a price they can af­ford.

“I saw that you were pay­ing more than $250,000 per new of­fi­cer, and you had your dis­patch fees raised and that the Sher­iff said that he had no idea that you were pay­ing $500,000 for ad­min­is­tra­tive costs,” Withrow said. “And I know that from 2007 through 2017, you had the same num­ber of of­fi­cers de­spite the costs go­ing up sig­nif­i­cantly.

“You’ve been ripped off for years by this man, and when I get into of­fice I will sit down and make this right and beat Tracy’s bid.”

De­spite his pas­sion­ate ap­peal, Mayor Sonny Dhali­wal did pause Withrow mo­men­tar­ily while he checked with City At­tor­ney Sal­vador Navar­rete to make sure that he wasn’t over­step­ping the bounds of the pub­lic com­ment por­tion of the meet­ing – say­ing that he wanted to be ab­so­lutely sure since Moore was not present to de­fend the al­le­ga­tions.

Withrow con­cluded af­ter telling the coun­cil that he knows first­hand that the de­ci­sions made by the Sher­riff have af­fected the city in more ways than one – us­ing the ex­am­ple of a li­cense plate scan­ner that he pur­chased us­ing Lathrop’s funds that he was barred from us­ing by Moore de­spite the fact that they’re proven tools to as­sist of­fi­cers in pre­vent crimes be­fore they oc­cur.

The coun­cil is ex­pected to bring the mat­ter back for fur­ther dis­cus­sion as city staff and the con­sul­tant get more in­for­ma­tion from Tracy and other agen­cies to present op­tions. No for­mal timetable has been set on when it will be brought back.

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