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Stockton police union rejects city's latest contract offer

The existing contract between the Stockton Police Officers' Association and the City of Stockton is set to expire Thursday.

STOCKTON, Calif. — With just hours left before the City of Stockton's contract expires with its police force, tensions have flared between the city and the Stockton Police Officers' Assocaition.

The SPOA, a union that represents around 340 of the Stockton Police Department's 398 officers, rejected a last-minute contract proposal from the City of Stockton Thursday. The current three-year contract between the city and the union was slated to expire on Thursday.

In a statement to ABC10, the union said that in a 237 to 71 vote, members decided to reject the city's latest contract offer which they say falls significantly short of their demands for better pay and officer retention measures.

"Our officers are leaving for neighboring agencies where they can make over $30,000 a year more, and work half as much, as referenced by our already having lost multiple officers to the newly formed Lathrop Police Department," the statement says in part. "Stockton has an exceptionally high call volume rate, and we are coming to a point where we do not have adequate numbers of officers to staff the shifts and protect our city."

ABC10 reached out to a spokesperson for the City of Stockton who declined to comment saying, "Because we are involved in active negotiations, it would not be appropriate to comment at this time."

According to the union, during contract talks, the city and the SPOA agreed to compare the salaries of the Stockton Police Department to the salaries of a dozen other similar-sized departments.

The comparison, which included cities such as Sacramento, Modesto, Tracy, Fresno and Riverside, reportedly found that Stockton's officers are paid 34.79% below the average pay for those 12 departments.

The union says that the city's most recent contract proposal offered a 10% pay raise for officers during the first year and 3% raises in the second and third years.

RELATED: Stockton Fire Department faces staffing shortage, union points to lack of competitive wages

"The city of Stockton is bleeding money on the front end by hiring and training officers, but they are doing nothing to retain them," the union's statment said. "If the city would simply pay a comparable wage upon hiring, our officers would not leave for better working conditions, safer working conditions, and higher pay."

While the current contract expires Thursday, union representatives say their officers will continue to go to work under the guidelines of the city's current contract, in some cases, while actively seeking employment at other departments.

According to the SPOA, the Stockton Police Department is 87 officers short of the department's maximum of 485 budgeted positions. 

Since August, 41 officers have left the Stockton Police Department leaving an average of 127 officers to patrol the streets of Stockton and protect its 322,000 residents, the union says.

"Unfortunately, we have come to a point where we are, at times, operating each district with only one patrol unit for the large district area," the statement says. "The city's leadership puts the safety of our officers and this community in jeopardy with every passing day."

The Stockton Police Department confirmed to ABC10 that there are shifts when only one patrol unit is assigned to each of the city's six police districts.

ABC10 reached out to a spokesperson for the City of Stockton who declined to comment saying, "Because we are involved in active negotiations, it would not be appropriate to comment at this time."

The SPOA says they plan to meet with the City of Stockton's negotiators again on July 6.

Watch More from ABC10: Joey Travolta hosts neurologically diverse film camp in Stockton

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