County makes 3-year contract with deputies

San Joaquin Sheriff's department sheriff deputy Melissa Griffith demonstrates with K9 Charlie during the Stomp Out Childhood Cancer at the San Joaquin County Historical Museum at Micke Grove Park in Lodi Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017.

STOCKTON — San Joaquin County reached a new three-year contract with the Deputy Sheriff’s Association on Tuesday, according to a press release from Deputy County Administrator Jolena Voorhis.

Details of the contract include:

• A 6% cost-of-living increase over a three-year period.

• A new longevity supplement for deputies with 7, 10, and 20 years of service.

• Some employees will be contributing an increased percentage towards their health insurance and retirement costs.

The DSA represents nearly 300 peace officers in the county.

“Today is a good day for San Joaquin county residents,” said Supervisor Chuck Winn. “Our goal throughout this negotiation process has been to balance the competing needs for fair total compensation, monetary responsibility and the continuation of vital public programs. This balance is reflected in the agreement our Board approved today, and we will work to resolve our remaining bargaining unit negotiations in that same spirit.”

The agreement came just hours after residents in unincorporated parts of the county urged supervisors to reach an contract agreement with the DSA so Sheriff Pat Withrow could put more deputies back on the streets in their neighborhoods.

During public comment at Tuesday’s board meeting, a handful of Woodbridge residents said that since the suspension of the Community Car Program, crime has increased almost immediately and they no longer feel safe.

Woodbridge resident Tasso Kandris said the community just north of Lodi had been trying to get the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office to reinstate the Community Car program since 1993.

A former chairman of the Woodbridge Municipal Advisory Council, he said the small community had been plagued with rampant gang and drug activity until the program had been reinstated in 2008.

“Once we got it back, we had the gangs disappear, we had the graffiti disappear and the drug houses disappear,” he said. “As soon as the program was gone, the gang members started coming back to the park. The graffiti has returned. Something has to be done.”

The Community Car Program assigned eight deputies to densely populated areas of unincorporated the county as part of community outreach efforts.

Those communities included Woodbridge, Thornton, Lockeford and Clements, Morada, Linden, Garden Acres, the Country Club area of Stockton, the Taft and Boggs Tract areas of Stockton, and portions of Tracy and Escalon.

Withrow in August announced his department would suspend the program in order to put more deputies on regular patrols in the midst of stalled contract negotiations between the county and the DSA. He said the labor union had been working without a new contract since 2015.

Last week, Woodbridge resident Mary Avanti emailed her neighbors describing an increase in gang taggings, cars speeding through the streets and transients rummaging through trash and recyclable bins.

In addition Avanti provided a list of calls for service she receives from the Sheriff’s Office dated between Aug. 31 and Sept. 23 that included a theft on Lucas Road, a residential burglary on Tami Lane, thefts on North Lower Sacramento Road and East Yellowstone Street, as well as an auto parts theft on North Lower Sacramento Road.

She also said a drive-by shooting occurred on Triolo Street in September in which eight rounds were fired, but fortunately no one was injured or killed.

On Tuesday, she said she and her neighbors could not have cleaned up Woodbridge a decade ago without the aid of the Sheriff’s Office and the Community Car Program.

She said it was shameful that certain county staff members are given tens of thousands of dollars in raises each year, yet deputies haven’t had a new contract in four years.

“When all the deputies walked out of the courthouse, it was a big to-do for you guys,” she told the board. “Now they’re walking away from us, and that’s got to do with all of you.”

Last month, the Stockton, Manteca and French Camp branches of the San Joaquin County Superior Court system were shut down for a day when part-time deputies called in sick.

Shortly after the sick-out, supervisors unanimously voted to require deputies provide security at all county meetings.

When Withrow announced the Community Car Program’s suspension, he said 10 deputies had already left the department in 2019, and 26 more have been ready to leave for other agencies.

Those 10 departures left 66 deputies to patrol the streets for an agency that is funded for 129, he said.

Woodbridge resident Steve Dake called out San Joaquin County Administrator Monica Nino during the meeting, stating he was concerned that she has received a wage increase each year since she was hired six years ago.

Nino took on the county administrator position in 2013 with a base salary of $244,000, after serving in the same capacity in Stanislaus County.

In 2016, her base salary was $266,000, and the following year it was increased by 12 percent to $315,000, with a possible two additional pay raises over five years.

Those additional 3% increases could boost her base salary to $334,183 by 2021.

“(Nino) shouldn’t receive another raise until deputies receive a raise that’s comparable (to others),” Dake said. “We should freeze the pay of all county executives until you have a contract and a raise for our deputies.”

In August, the county said the DSA received a 27.5 percent wage increase under the terms of a memorandum of understanding between 2007 and 2015.

New contract negotiations began in 2015, with 25 bargaining sessions held since that time.

Following public comment Tuesday, board chairman Miguel Villapudua angrily addressed the accusations levied at the county administrator, as well as demands from local labor unions to remove her from her post.

“Miss Nino is negotiating on behalf of the county on good faith,” he said. “She will continue to work tirelessly until we reach an outcome that is amicable to both parties.”

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