Monday, November 17, 2008

Chief's assessment: Manteca Police

From the report to the Manteca City Council, 23 Oct 2008:

You can read the report for yourself here, but let's simplify things. The chief has done his first 90-day assessment and has some suggestions for how to improve the police department.

First, the chief has observed that most of the calls to the police are nonsense. Calling them "priority 3" and "priority 2," he figures they'll try to get there "in about an hour" or so. (Like having a pair of eyeglasses made at Lenscrafters. Which would be handy if a thief steals your glasses, you can have a new pair made before the police arrive.) For things the dispatcher guesses are a little more urgent, they'll try to get help out in about the time it takes to get a pizza - about 30 minutes.

Well, all this running around dealing with nonsense has been making it hard to respond to "priority 1" situations. He'd like to respond to these in 3 minutes or less - about the time it takes in the outside civilized world to call the police. The "call the police" level priority are dire situations where someone's life is at stake. The chief notes with some pride that the Manteca Police have failed to respond to these life threatening situations only about one in ten times (90.2 percent response rate). That means if you're ever in desperate need of police help, there's a 9 out of 10 chance you might survive. Those are "pretty good" odds -- if you're a gambler. Hats off!

As an aside, there's a certain conflict between the stated goals of the police and this classification system. On page one, one of the goals is listed as "pro-active suppression" of crime; crime prevention in other words. But the definition of "pizza level" calls is "situations that are likely to develop into true emergencies soon" (priority 1). Well, if the goal is to be proactive in preventing situations from developing, why delay responding to situations likely to become emergencies soon? You'd almost think creating or letting emergencies develop was one of the goals.

The chief has also decided that we can save some money because most of those nonsense calls really don't need a "police officer" to respond. So his plan is to fire two police officers (damn waste of good money) and give police clothing to three people and have them respond to the nonsense calls. These "Costumed Simulated Officers" (CSOs) will be taught to act like, talk like and appear to be police officers. Or something like that.

No one can say the chief lacks creative thinking outside the box!

The next problem is there's too much overtime being used by shift supervisors. His creative solution is to promote six "police officers II" to "police corporal." Even the corporals are officers now. Where are the enlisted men? Never mind. The interesting part is how the "police officer II" is a matrix level 38A-2 and the sergeant is matrix level 46A-2. The new "corporal," he suggests, should find his place in the matrix at 40A-2. That's one hell of an organizational chart! I pity the poor guy at level 01A-1 since he obviously has several thousand supervisory positions above him.

The last part of the report deals with the "code enforcement officer" who is tasked with responding to complaints "in a few days" (the time it takes to get your cat spayed or neutered). I guess that's really a low priority. But never mind, he's being promoted to "code enforcement supervisor." This fixes the problem of lack of supervision in the code enforcement department. He supervises a team consisting of ... himself. But there is some plan to bring in someone for him to supervise at some unspecified time in the future.

The future looks bright!

By the way, anyone care to guess the compensation packages that go along with these promotions? I'll let you think about that for a while and put that in a future dispatch. I'll have to end this entry here on the grounds that it's too depressing.

The proposed changes will be discussed at tonight's city council meeting, 7 pm at city hall.


  1. (If these changes go through...)

    Let me be the first to congratulate our current code enforcement officer on his impending promotion. Then he can turn around and hire his own replacement *and* he gets to use the Community Service Officers to thwart scofflaws, too. (Think, paid S.H.A.R.P.S.)

    The only question is, What to do with the current code enforcement supervisor? That poor man wears so many city hats, union hats, re-election campaign hats, and philanthropic hats, he can't seem to get any of his law, code, or facts straight when it comes to code enforcement. I strongly support relieving him of this particular duty.

  2. For anyone interested in reading the police chief's report, it starts on page 24 of the 47 page document for which Joe gave a link (so you don't get discouraged trying to find it).

    According to the report, the cost and benefits for 2 police positions he's suggesting be changed to 3 community officer positions is $353,588.00 That's $176,794.00 each. What's the average salary for jobs in Manteca? It's about $35,528.00 according to a report at,+CA

  3. Dave Bricker is one of the finest men you will find to garner a policemens uniform. I have noticed that most of the people you knock in your town are the ones that are actually doing something to improve the quality of life in the communities in which they live........mostly for people they do not even know......and not simply observing and reporting percieved descrepencies.
    Maybe you should read the advice you give to others that post here.
    Dan Mac Neilage

  4. Dear Dan: Thanks for your comment. I want to say that I agree Chief Bricker is a fine human being. I was told a short time ago there was a contentious funeral in town and some were less than friendly toward ms Richelt. It was Dave Bricker brought her into the gathering and publically proclaimed that she was a close friend not only to him but to the deceased and her family. That meant a lot to her I know and I thought that was a very human and decent thing to do. And he's been good to me and has always answered questions about the city directly. Sometimes a little too directly for the liking of the council. *cough* But that's because he is an honest man.

    But that's not the point of my criticism. This is where you get the other side of the issues. Just compare the story we get from "the cities paper." The Bulletin feds us the story in simple terms: The police service is being improved and saving money! End of story. Compare that with the actual idea: They are saving money by firing two highly overpaid police officers. Then most of the "savings" is going to promotions and raises for the rest of the police force. The bottom line: Less police services for the same cost or even more cost in a very short time. The "savings" is trivial pennies and temporary if you read the fine print of the report. Note also that the report mentions that these "savings" only occurs if we "defer hiring the code enforcement officer into next year." Meaning, there really is no "cost savings" but we can make it look like a cost saving for the time being. By the time we hire the other guy next year, no one will remember that this negates the "cost savings."

    It's a public relations game. Whenever you want to give everyone raises but you don't want the newspaper headlines saying "chief gives huge raises" here's what you do: You fire a few. Put in a clause that hires them back in a few months. Give the raises. Now, you've done the impossible - Spent more and the public is loudly told it "cost less." You just don't issue a press release when you hire them back, so it's like it never happens! Brilliant!

    The other shocking revelation as Jackie mentioned above is the outrageous wages demanded by the police union bosses. I sort of don't blame the chief for wanting to get rid of two of the "step E" level policemen. They were getting $176,794 per year! And if they were doing such a poor job that you could dress someone up in a police costume and do the same thing for a mere $98K that's a bargain.

    But the rest the "reorganization" is the same old story -- they want to give the citizens less for more money. The astounding part is how they present it as "an improvement."

    There's also the issue of what can you buy for that kind of money? The six "p.o. II's" are getting promoted to "corporal" and their pay is raised from $150,736 to $157,503. The code enforcement guy is getting a raise from $141,905 to $156,500.

    The next challenge I give people is look up the pay rates of various jobs. How much does a congressman get? A Supreme Court justice? A doctor? A soldier fighting in Iraq? The people were just asked two years ago to vote for a special tax to pay for more "safely" not simply to pay the policemen and firemen more. That part is working but we get less service for a lot more money and have the potential dangers of having such a force.

  5. Thanks for your explaination Joe. When I saw Dave Brickers name come up, I instantly had thoughts of all the things I see him do in and for the community. Most of the time, Dave is doing something for someone he doesnt even know......He just knows they need help and he is there with whatever he can provide. When he was promoted to Chief, I was very proud, although at the same time, very cautious that the "politics" of holding such a post might wear down his generous and giving demeanor.Gladfully, politics have not wavered Dave from the Man he is. The example he shows in giving back to others and reaching out to those that have less than, to illistrate how gratefulhe is for what he does have.I have learned this lesson from Dave, as I have from many
    men and women of Manteca. I suspect if you were to spend a day with Dave, you will find his day is filled with many of the random and caring acts of kindness he shared at that funeral that day.
    Thank you for allowing me to ramble once again.
    Dan Mac Neilage