Antioch Councilman proposes police reforms, to call for ad hoc committee at Tuesday’s meeting

Thorpe seeks six of eight immediate policy reforms, claims only two have already been implemented

Video screenshot of Antioch Councilman Lamar Thorpe during a protest in Antioch on Sunday, June 7, 2020. From his Facebook page.

By Allen Payton

In response to the death of George Floyd at the hands of four former Minneapolis Police Officers, and the ensuing protests in Antioch and throughout the country, Antioch Councilman Lamar Thorpe has jumped on the bandwagon of a nationwide effort led by the Obama Foundation, to limit police interactions with suspected criminals by proposing a list of reforms for the Antioch Police Department he wants the rest of the council to consider.

In a press release he issued on Monday, Thorpe said he “fully endorses the enactment of eight specific policy recommendations that are part of the national 8 Can’t Wait Campaign and claims two of eight recommendations are policy in Antioch.

Thorpe is calling on Antioch Chief of Police to enact the remaining six.

“Something is happening with the consciousness of America. People all over the country and here in Antioch are saying ‘enough is enough,’ and they expect change,” Thorpe said. “After 15 days of sustained protest, demonstrations and civil unrest, it’s time to take action, before one more senseless killing takes place. Let’s think globally and act locally.”

The most controversial of the remaining six recommendations is the banning of chokeholds and strangleholds, including a technique Antioch police use called the carotid restraint, which involves placing pressure on a person’s neck to restrict blood flow. In an independent autopsy, medical examiners determined that pressure placed on Floyd’s carotid artery impeded blood flow to his brain and contributed to his death.

More than a dozen California cities have banned carotid restraints following Floyd’s murder. Assembly Bill 1196, introduced last week by state Assemblyman Mike Gipson, D-Carson, would make the carotid restraint illegal in California. Thorpe is calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign the bill.

Following are the eight policy recommendations:

  1. Ban police use of chokeholds and strangleholds, including the carotid restraint
  2. Require officers to de-escalate situations whenever possible
  3. Require officers to exhaust all options before shooting, including less lethal force
  4. Ban officers from shooting at moving vehicles
  5. Establish a use of force continuum that restricts using the most severe force to most extreme situations
  6. Require comprehensive reporting for each time an officer fires or points their weapon at someone
  7. Require verbal warnings before using deadly force (already an Antioch policy)
  8. Require officers to intervene to stop excessive force by other officers (already an Antioch policy)

According to the Obama.org website, “More than 1,000 people are killed by police every year in America, and Black people are three times more likely to be killed than White people.” That’s because, as a CNBC article on police violence in America reports, “according to Mapping Police Violence, one research group…Black people accounted for 24% of those killed, despite making up only about 13% of the population.” But the article also reports that, “no comprehensive official database exists for tracking police violence, though there have been efforts at the federal level to create one.”

That article further reports, “the data from Mapping Police Violence is sourced from three databases — killedbypolice.net, fatalencounters.org and the U.S. Police Shootings Database — as well as original research focused on social media, obituaries, criminal records databases, police reports and other sources, according to the group.”

At the Tuesday, June 9, 2020 Antioch Council meeting, Councilmember Thorpe will call for the formation of a City Council Ad-Hoc Committee on Police Reforms to be composed of council members, legal advisers, police leaders, police union representatives and community advocates. The role of the committee will be to examine potential long-term reforms in the following areas:

  1. Demilitarize our local police
  2. Increase police accountability
  3. Improve police hiring practices
  4. Excessive use of force
  5. Budget appropriations

“While it’s important for our city to take immediate preventative steps, such as banning use of carotid restraints, creating successful police reforms will require the involvement of the entire community,” Thorpe said. “The ad-hoc committee approach is one of the best tools we have as city councilmembers to create lasting policy change that works.”

Additionally, he has signed the Obama.org’s “My Brother’s Keeper Alliance Pledge”, to have Antioch become an MBK Community which asks local officials to:

  1. Review the police use of force policies in my community
  2. Engage my community by including a diverse range of input, experiences, and stories in our review
  3. Report the findings of our review to my community and seek feedback within 90 days of signing this pledge
  4. Reform my community’s police use of force policies based on findings

When asked for his thoughts on Thorpe’s proposed reforms, Antioch Police Chief T Brooks responded, “I look forward to hearing the discussion between Councilman Thorpe and the rest of the city council on this proposal.  I am especially interested in what specific reforms they believe are necessary at the Antioch Police Department.”

A question to the chief asking if there any of the other six reforms on the proposed list have been implemented by the Antioch Police Department went unanswered prior to publication time.

The online Antioch City Council meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. and can be viewed on Comcast Local Cable Channel 24 or via livestream on the city’s website at www.antiochca.gov/government/city-council-meetings/live/.

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

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Lamar Thorpe screenshot from FB page 6-7-20


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