There’s a new group out to influence the outcome of Manteca’s mayoral race.
Several retired law enforcement officers from other jurisdictions who now reside in Manteca have formed the Retired Police Officers Association (RPOA).
The group said on its website that it was formed after the Manteca Police Officers Association, which represents the city’s frontline police officers, endorsed Gary Singh for mayor on November 8.
Announcing the endorsement that upset the RPOA, Manteca Police Officers Association President Ian Osborn said, “The Manteca Police Officers Association has endorsed Gary Singh for the position of Mayor during of the upcoming elections in November. Councilman Singh and the MPOA have a good working relationship. Public safety and the general well-being of citizens are our top priority. We look forward to working with Gary for years to come.
The fledgling group of retired police officers hopes to gain membership among the hundreds of retired law enforcement officers from other jurisdictions — in addition to those from Manteca — who reside in the city. They are also open to those currently serving in law enforcement.
The website notes that retired RPOA officers met originally and informally to build friendships and discuss issues in and around Manteca.
“Let’s face it,” states the RPOA website, “Manteca is known for its lawlessness. Manteca is below the standard citizen to officer ratio of 1000:1. It is common knowledge that there can be as few as 4 officers on patrol for a city of nearly 90,000 people. This endangers the safety of our officers and poses a risk to our community. . . Our goal is to use our vast experience and knowledge to continue contributing and serving our community after retirement. “
The RPOA is not a political action committee, nor is it seeking fees, rights, or donations. Instead, it was formed to give a voice to those who disagree with MPOA approval as well as any concerns they have with Manteca’s law enforcement.
Among the reasons they provided as to why they are stepping up their involvement in the election and looking for like-minded retired law enforcement officers to join them include:
* Several members are supporting mayoral Lei Ann Larson, who they say was not contacted by the MPOA to assess her positions on law enforcement.
* Mayor Ben Cantu and Singh ‘walked side by side’ with Black Lifes Matter supporters at an event on June 2, 2020 in Manteca. As such, the RPOA concludes that Singh and Cantu support defunding the police based on a May 30, 2020 article that the RPOA references on the blacklivesmatter.com website calling for national defunding of the police.
It’s worth pointing out that weeks after Singh and Cantu appeared at the rally, they voted to increase Manteca police spending when they approved the city’s budget. They also increased law enforcement spending in the next two municipal budgets.
Singh is also pushing for a citywide vote in 2024 to raise the half-cent public sales tax by a quarter cent that exclusively funds frontline police and firefighters.
* Manteca Police Chief Mike Aguilar said in March 2022 that his department needs 7 additional sworn officers, plus a code enforcement officer and a community resources officer for law enforcement on the circulation. The budget adopted by the council provided for only one trainee police officer from the general fund, while several positions were added via the public security tax fund.
* In 2019, according to the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division, Manteca had just 8.9 sworn officers per 10,000 population. The City of Tracy had 9.3, the City of Modesto had 9.4, the City of Ripon had 13.04, and the City of Stockton had 14.63 officers per 10,000 population.
* The RPOA believes that the lack of sufficient staff leads to additional problems, such as under-reporting of crimes, as there are simply not enough staff to deal with lower level offences.
The website (https://retiredpeaceoffice.wixsite.com/retired-peace-office) has a contact page as well as an email account at [email protected]
There is also an approval page although none are actually listed.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email [email protected]