On June 26, the city of Stockton declared bankruptcy.
With years of deep budget deficits, the city was stuck with a $26 million debt.
When negotiations fell short with creditors, city officials felt the next best thing was to implement this plan.
According to a CBS news article, city manager Bob Deis said “We think Chapter 9 protection is the only choice left. If we get any agreements, those will be honored in Chapter 9.”
Bankruptcy allowed the city to break contracts with creditors without the threat of lawsuits. This should give Stockton sometime to budget and maintain the services currently in place.
Services which have dwindled in recent years. In an effort to combat the increasing debt, the city cut $90 million to its police department, fire department and employee benefits.
This drastic measure has had a negative effect on the citizens of Stockton.
In a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown, Deis warned him that the city may slip into “municipal chaos,” according to CrimeAlertBlog.com.
The Stockton Police Department has lost 200 officers and the remaining cops have taken a substantial pay cut and loss in benefits.
Many experienced officers left to work with other departments in the state.
These events happened at a time when the city’s crime rate is at an all-time high.
According to FBI data, Stockton ranked third in murders in 2011 among large California cities, behind Oakland and Los Angeles.
There were 58 homicides last year, the highest murder rate the city has ever seen.
As of Thursday, there have been nearly 50 homicides in Stockton.
There are more murders at this time than last year.
In efforts to deal with increasing issues and change the dynamics of the city, a multi-jurisdictional task force has been established.
Not only has crime become a public nuisance, but inadequate housing has also become an issue.
Stockton’s foreclosure rate was the fifth highest in the country as stated by Realty Trac Inc.
That means that one in every 195 homes in the metropolitan area received a foreclosure filing.
“Homeless shelters are overcrowded,” said Joelle Gomez, the executive director at the Women’s Center Youth and Family Services.
“The nature of domestic violence that is occurring is more violent than we ever seen before,” according to a New York Times article.
Along with the recession and the economic misfortune of a city where the unemployment rate has almost doubled the national average at 16-percent, people give up hope and become angry and volatile.
“Social moiré’ and economic status can be related to public issues,” said Dr. Rosalind Gottfried, a sociology instructor at Delta College.
Some individuals become fed up and resort to crime and illegal activities in order to have a roof over their head and a hot meal in their stomachs.
Outside of financial woes, the city has a resilient demographic with a scenic downtown area historic landmarks dating as far back as 1855.
Stockton received an All-American City award from the National Civic League twice, in 1999 and 2004.