The Turlock City Council approved a request by Turlock Police Chief Gary Hampton to authorize a reduction of four sworn officer positions; and authorize the submittal of a United States Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant modification, acceptance of an allocation of funds, and execution of a modified grant agreement to “rehire” the four sworn officer positions.
This will save the City of Turlock around $400,000 to $500,000 a year. The COPS grant modification would be to request $1,173,228 to “rehire” four sworn officer positions.
Because there are three (3) vacant sworn officer positions, sworn officer staffing would only be reduced by one (1) current police officer while the budget funded 85 sworn officers would decrease to 81.
Police Chief Gary Hampton referenced discussion with City Manager Roy Wasden that has revealed the City’s revenue stream is not rebounding nor is it meeting projections and that in his opinion will be looking at hard budget cuts in July that will force staffing cuts in all departments.
Hampton expressed the awkwardness in requesting a staffing decrease but that it was entirely a proactive move to lessen the impacts of an expected tough budget. Hampton also stated that he didn’t see the point in adding sworn officers today who would then have to be cut by July.
Detective Brandon Bertram, Turlock Associated Police Officers (TAPO) President, said that after hearing the facts by Chief Hampton at an emergency meeting, the TAPO Board has voted unanimously to support the proposal.
“This is a very uncomfortable position for us to be in to come here and ask for a reduction in allocated personnel in our membership of our association but we feel it’s absolutely the most responsible decision to make to sustain the services that our department can provide to the city and community of Turlock,” said Bertram.
City Council Members begrudgingly approved to decrease the sworn officer staffing level and were disappointed that the economic impacts were impairing their commitment to carry out a three year strategic plan for the Turlock Police Department.
Turlock has seen around 20 percent reduction in part 1 crime over the last couple years and Council was hoping to continue to be progressive in cutting crime.
“We’re not going backwards,” said Hampton. “We’re just slowing our pace of progress.”
Turlock Chief Hampton said “I can assure you that first line of essential services will not be impacted.”
Councilman Ted Howze noted that the Fire Union, and now the Police Association, has done what he hopes other departments of the City will do and take a hard look at being proactive in what he expects to be the most difficult budget yet. Howze suggested that the City may face another budget reduction of 10 percent.
After Council unanimously approved the proposal, Mayor John Lazar said “I just wanted to say thank you to staff for your cooperation and we appreciate all our employees, we’ll get through these tough times.”