LATHROP (CBS13) — The city of Lathrop is building a police department from scratch, and it has turned to TV advertising to recruit officers.
Raymond Bechler is the new police chief.
“It’s huge. The community is loud and clear in what they want for their police department. Tthey want local control,” Chief Bechler said when asked about how important a local police department is to the city.
For ten years, the city has been working on building its own police force, all while contracted San Joaquin County sheriff’s deputies have been protecting and serving the streets.
So what happens to the deputies when the department officially opens next July 1?
“We’re hoping to get a couple of the deputies from San Joaquin County,” Chief Belcher said. “It’s nice to have especially folks that know the Lathrop area.”
Chief Bechler said the community has been vocal about transparency, accountability and engagement.
“Being responsive, definitely, on all levels, whether it’s a criminal matter, quality of life issue or just being down-home friendly and compassionate, whatever issue they are struggling through,” he said.
According to the department, the city will save $2 million a year having its own force rather than contracting out with the sheriff’s office.
Lathrop resident Jennifer Lewis says her family has built relationships with the current deputies serving and hopes the new officers are just as engaging when it comes to mental health needs.
“Over the last two or three years, [the deputies] have really developed an understanding for some of her mental health disabilities. I just wish that could follow through,” she said of family.