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More Lodi police officers voiced opposition to interim Chief Gary Benincasa

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Gary Benincasa

Posted: Saturday, January 15, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 1:02 pm, Sat Jan 15, 2011.

More Lodi police officers voiced their lack of confidence in interim Police Chief Gary Benincasa in November, according to a letter addressed to city manager Rad Bartlam and obtained by the News-Sentinel last month.

The letter, which was sent by the Lodi Police Mid-Management Organization on Nov. 11, states concerns over supervisory vacancies within the department, and raises doubts in the leadership abilities of Benincasa.

Twelve separate members of the department (eight sergeants and four lieutenants) signed the letter. Every signer either declined to comment, or did not return messages seeking comment.

The letter is the second written statement about Benincasa given to Bartlam by members of the department. On Nov. 23, Police Officers' Association of Lodi president Det. Eric Bradley delivered a letter that revealed the association had voted overwhelmingly to express no confidence in Benincasa.

In the letter from LPMO, the members said expressing no confidence in a chief was a position that had never been taken before. The LPMO cited supervisory vacancies as its primary concern in the letter, and said Benincasa placed a higher priority on filling clerical positions than supervisory ones.

According to city spokesman Jeff Hood, the department had the same number of supervisory vacancies in 2010 as it did in 2009, with the exception of the chief position. Hood said there was one sergeant vacancy and two lieutenant vacancies in both years. Currently the department has 51 officers, eight corporals, eight sergeants and four lieutenants, Hood said.

The letter also states that LPMO has made attempts to work with Benincasa to maintain a "safe staffing level," but alleges that he has been unwilling or unable to work with its members and develop a plan for the future.

The members of the LPMO unanimously determined that Benincasa was not suited to lead the department, according to the letter, based on his "demonstrated leadership and internal communication skills."

A member of the department for 27 years, Benincasa was a charter member of Lodi's SWAT team. One of only two captains when Chief David Main retired in early 2010, Benincasa was made interim chief and expressed a desire to seek the position full time.

But less than two weeks after the officers' association vote, Benincasa unexpectedly announced his retirement, effective in February.

Benincasa declined to comment on either of the letters, as did Bartlam. Mayor Bob Johnson also declined to comment, calling the LPMO letter a "personnel matter."

Contact reporter Fernando Gallo at fernando@lodinews.com.

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