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City commits detective to local DEA
• In the past, money was thrown at group
Ceres city seal

Ceres has been a member of the Stanislaus Drug Enforcement Agency (SDEA) since 1977 to help combat drug trafficking. Participation means committing money or personnel but in recent tough budget years the city has scaled back that participation.

With a better budget picture at hand, the city is now committing a detective to the SDEA.

Last week the council also approved the city’s participation through a new Joint Powers Authority (JPA) agreement since the SDEA is now investigating violent and gang-related crimes, street terrorism, and human trafficking.

Under the new JPA, the sheriff is the Director of Operations for the SDEA. Fiduciary authority is transferring from the city of Modesto to the Auditor-Controller of Stanislaus County. The SDEA Commander may be a Sheriff’s lieutenant or commander. The JPA agreement runs until June 30, 2021 and shall renew year to year.

Ceres Police Chief Brent Smith said the city has always just handed the SDEA money – about $30,000 a year – based on Ceres’ population for its share of the costs.

“Since I’ve been chief here we haven’t had anyone assigned until very recently, two weeks ago, we assigned a detective,” said Chief Smith.

Councilwoman Linda Ryno called the idea of a detective assignment over a cash payment “wonderful – I think we’re getting back to where we should be and I would hope that eventually relatively soon that we can get our Street Crimes Unit back up again.”

The city’s financial standings improved vastly from a year ago because of increased sales tax receipts as well as an expected $1.6 million in revenue from three development agreements inked with one medical marijuana producer and two cannabis dispensaries. Despite the improved revenues, last month City Manager Toby Wells said the city has “not reached the point of being able to fully fund all of the city’s needs.” He also warned that the state is advising an economic slowdown may be coming and that there is still no end in sight to upward spiraling public employee pension costs that threaten to unravel city financial stability statewide.