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Stockton residents want more of city budget to go toward public safety

Stockton set to vote on city budget
Stockton set to vote on city budget 02:31

STOCKTON — The Stockton mayor and city council are expected to vote on the budget for the upcoming fiscal year on Wednesday night. If it's approved, the money will start going out to departments on July 1.

City Manager Harry Black feels this is a balanced budget for the city, but some community members want to see more money put into public safety.

"I've lived here 35 years," Stockton resident Eric Mieglitz said. "The crime rate has gone up."

Mieglitz has lived in Stockton since the '80s and said he has seen police officers within the city come and go.

"The quality, with what goes on around here, the quality has gone down drastically," he said. "The shortage of police officers, they just do not have enough police officers."

Mieglitz wants to see a change in this upcoming budget for the city.

"Either we raise the pay scale to get people to come here because what they're paying now nobody is going to come," he said.

Black said that is exactly what the city is doing.

"We made police competitive in terms of compensation," Black said.

The city has enough funding for 480 police officers but, according to Black, has not been able to hire that many.

"Based on projections, we probably will never get to 480," he said.

So now, the city has lowered its hiring target to a more reasonable goal of 425, using the money slated for the 480 officers to beef up the salaries of the 425 approved positions.

"We've reprogrammed those dollars back into the 425," Black said. "Recruitment incentives, hiring incentives, so, in essence, they're making more money."

The Stockton Police Officers' Association even admitted in a statement to CBS13:

"The reality is that the police department in Stockton and the majority of agencies in this state will not reach their pre-2020 numbers anytime soon. There simply is not a large enough applicant pool to fill these spots."

For people like Meiglitz, the new officers can't come soon enough.

"I feel sorry for the ones that are working," he said. "They're working their tail off. They need help."

Black said they're already projecting to see more officers coming into the city soon—possibly another 30 by the end of the year.

"Our application pool has tripled and quadrupled in terms of applications," he said.

Meiglitz wants to see the pay higher than other nearby cities so they can keep those new officers.

"The pay scale better be higher than everyone else and it's not," he said.

The city is spending $43 million more this year than last year, and Black said that is in large part because insurance premiums increased.

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