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City Of Lathrop Officially Opens New Police Department

LATHROP (CBS13) – It's been a long time coming.

"In fact, about 33 years you might say," said Bennie Gatto, the city's former mayor.

Lathrop's finest are finally here. For years, the city relied on the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Department for law enforcement. That changed at noon Wednesday.

During the hand-off, Chief Raymond Bechler thanked deputies for their commitment and dedicated service over a radio.

"We will take it from here," he finished.

All of the department's 35 sworn officers are lateral hires with at least two years of experience.

Before day one, the department already knew the community's expectations based on a survey.

"Police accountability, community engagement and transparency," said Chief Bechler. "Those three things are the focus of our training."

Meanwhile, residents say they are ready to create a rapport with the men and women in blue.

"I like it," said Revi Indukura who just moved to the area. "They're brand new and security is good."

Latresiya Giles participated in the study. She fully supports the newly formed department.

"We don't want to be against the police, we want to be actually for them," Giles said. "And this is an opportunity being a brand new police force that our voices are heard."

The department believes the move will save the city $2 million per year by parting ways with the sheriff's office. It's a push Gatto hoped to see following the city's incorporation in 1989.

"Overwhelmed," he said. "Overwhelmed, proud and just feel great."

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