Letter writer’s observations on Cantando’s crime update to City Council

Tuesday, February 12th was the best of nights; it was the worst of nights. The bad news was the grim crime numbers in Chief Cantando’s annual ‘State of the Antioch Police’ address.

The good news was what one Council member described as the Chief’s refreshingly, brutal honesty. If you like getting an unvarnished story this is a guy who gives “just the facts, ma’am.”

We are blessed that the Chief is a great communicator, straight up guy, and Antioch resident, who as a parent and homeowner, lives and breathes our daily dilemmas.

The Council, as well, is to be commended for their unity of resolve. Any ideological differences were cast aside as Mayor Harper, Vice Mayor Rocha and Counselors Gary Agopian, Tony Tiscareno and Monica Wilson all committed to fully supporting the Chief.

It is going to take everyone on deck, from top city brass to everyday citizens, to turn this ship around. To their credit this Council acutely realizes crime is the City’s pivotal issue. Safety, after all, consumes Antioch’s conversation at the office water cooler, the beauty salon and the family dining table.

Some positive underscored in that we seemingly have hit bottom on police staffing with a handful of recruits gestating. It was heartening to also hear that deteriorating response time is finally flattening out.

Other news, though, was chilling. We have 88 sworn officers, one more than in 1995 when we had 28,000 less citizens. The Chief said that our previous high water mark of 126 officers is minimum baseline, with 144 ideal. Remember, we currently have no school community resource officers, gang prevention, narcotic, or traffic control units. Community service officers are just trickling back and code enforcement is bare minimum.

You can’t make filet mignon out of hamburger, try as our dedicated officers do. Antioch violent crime is up 30.6% from last year; burglaries seem epidemic; our crime rate doubles that of neighboring Pittsburg; and, as perspective, Antioch High had four lockdowns last year due to shootings within proximity.

Obviously, we can’t afford to do nothing because, like it or not, we pay a price everyday; in daily anxiety, looking over our shoulders as we walk the dog or go to our cars in the store parking lot; worrying when we get back home from work if our house is undisturbed; fearing vacation absence; and seeing depreciated real estate values.

The Chief, our brave men and women in blue, and our City Council, need and welcome your ideas and your unwavering support. Please come to a Town Hall Meeting on crime at Beede Auditorium at 6 p.m. on Thursday, February 28th.

We are a resilient lot. Antioch can and will reclaim public safety.

Walter Ruehlig, Antioch

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