Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden released a new call response model this month to prioritize service calls as the department continues to struggle with short staffing.
The police union alleged that 21 officers were mandated to work 11-hour overtime shifts prior to the Fourth of July weekend to cover the increased crimes associated with holiday activities, such as illegal sideshows.
The union said a July 2 sideshow “went almost totally unanswered” due to minimal staffing.
The police department did confirm, however, that officers responded to reports of an 18-year-old Sacramento man shot at 2:35 a.m. on Saturday near state Highway 4 and South Wilson Way. The man died from his injuries at a hospital.
Sideshow activity allegedly took place at 2 a.m. near Golden Gate Avenue and Main Street.
“Around 2:35 a.m. when the shooting call came out the initial response was three officers and a supervisor, shortly after a second supervisor with four more officers,” said David Scott, public information officer for the department.
The Stockton Police Officers Association described the limited staff as a plague issue for the department and said the number of officers continues to fall at a significant rate.
“The emboldened criminal element knows Stockton lacks the resources to put a stop to sideshows and targets our city as a location to conduct these activities. As staffing continues to fall and fatigue continues to plague our officers, the ability to combat these will get worse.”Stockton Police Officers Association statement
Last July, the department had 395 sworn officers and this year has 363, despite being allotted 485 officers, Scott said.
“The emboldened criminal element knows Stockton lacks the resources to put a stop to sideshows and targets our city as a location to conduct these activities,” a statement from the union said. “As staffing continues to fall and fatigue continues to plague our officers, the ability to combat these will get worse.”
Dealing with staff shortages
According to McFadden, some of the ways the department is attempting to bolster staffing is by having streamlined testing and hiring process in collaboration with HR, creating a dedicated recruiting team and social media platform for recruiting, and establishing an “application to hire” communications process between candidates and recruiters.
Community Medical Centers, a nonprofit that provides medical, dental and behavioral health care to more than 100,000 patients throughout San Joaquin, Solano and Yolo counties, has also been helping the department with non-criminal calls.
The police department said CMC provides a service that allows officers to “hand off” non-criminal, non-emergency calls with mental health emphasis to clinicians.
“This frees up the officers to handle emergency calls for service that are called into dispatch,” the police department said in a statement.
As of July 1, the police department expanded helicopter availability to seven days a week, added a dirt bike fleet to address reckless off-road driving and established a paid cadet position as a pipeline for careers at the police department to perform duties to offer support to staff in various divisions.
Victoria Franco is a reporter based in Stockton covering San Joaquin County for Bay City News Foundation and its nonprofit news site Local News Matters. She is a Report for America corps member.