When Tracy police officers voted via their union to forego a scheduled pay raise in 2011 — a raise that they had every legal right to — so that police layoffs would be less likely, they did something very wise.
At a time when the public is increasingly worried about gang violence, the department could ill afford to lose the six officers, two sergeants and one captain that the city estimated would have to be cut if the 2011 raise was still a go. Voting to eschew the raise means that locals don't have to worry about losing police protection, or sacrificing some other service in exchange.
It's also good for other officers. Giving up a pay raise to ensure the job for your coworkers has to go a long way for camaraderie.
But it's not just about doing the right thing by citizens and their fellows in the line of fire. This is a political move.
In a time of big budget deficits, when taxpaying citizens are increasingly fed up with public employees with plusher deals than many of their private-sector counterparts, this vote by the police union was the only smart move on the table.
Public blowback would have been fairly intense had Tracy's cops not put the city they serve first.
But — huzzah! — Tracy's men and women in blue did put the city and its residents first. Let's see if that sentiment holds during the next round of collective bargaining.