Archive for the ‘Police & Crime’ Category

Sheriff boycotts county Public Protection Committee meeting on threats of $25 million loss in federal DOJ funds

Friday, December 8th, 2017

Due to state sanctuary policies; county policy to go into effect next year; response due today

By Daniel Borsuk

With neither Sheriff-Coroner David Livingston nor one of his representatives in attendance at a meeting of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors’ Public Protection Committee on Thursday, there was more concern as to why the sheriff wasn’t in attendance than the topic at hand:  the possibility the county could lose up to $24.7 million in federal assistance.

Representatives from the District Attorney’s Office, Public Defender’s Office, Probation, Employment and Human Services, and County Administrator were present at the committee meeting conducted by Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond and attended by Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg.

Without Livingston or his representative at the committee table, supervisors and citizens serving on the committee could not get a proper read on the status of the sheriff’s policy on the arrest and detention of undocumented immigrants primarily at West County Jail, and how well deputies interface with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and United States Marshals.

Some $19.8 million of the $24.7 million in federal aid that the county receives from the federal government is allocated to the Sheriff-Coroner Office.  Employment and Human Services receives $1.9 million in federal aid, Probation pulls in $1.1 million, the County Administrator draws $983,971, the District Attorney gets $563,848, and the Public Defender collects $180,412.

“I am surprised and disappointed that the sheriff is not here,” said Supervisor Gioia.  “I don’t know if this has ever happened before where the sheriff has not appeared at a Public Protection Committee meeting.”

“I’m shocked and dismayed that no one from the Sheriff’s Office is here,” said Renee Zeimer representing Organizing for Contra Costa Action.  “How is the sheriff held accountable to the public?”

About four other also persons complained that the sheriff or a representative should have been in attendance at the committee meeting.

The fate of federal money that California cities and 58 counties receive will probably be decided in United States District Court on Wednesday, Dec. 13, when U.S. District Judge William Orrick is expected to rule on whether California Senate Bill 54 or “the Sanctuary State Bill” that was recently signed by Gov. Jerry Brown and goes into effect Jan. 1 conflicts with Executive Order 1373 that President Donald J. Trump inked on Jan. 25, 2017.

Executive Order 1373 assigns broad powers to the U.S. Department of Justice, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Marshalls to investigate, arrest, and deport undocumented immigrants in order to secure the safety of the interior of the nation.  The executive order also gives the DOJ investigative power to determine if states, cities, and counties are in compliance with Executive Order 1373.

In Sanctuary States like California, Contra Costa County and other counties are aligning policies to conform with SB 54 unaware how Judge Orrick will rule.

When asked if the county has a Plan B should the U.S. District Court strikes down SB 54 and uphold Executive Order 1373, Supervisor Gioia remarked, “That’ll be an issue for the state and every city and county effected by SB54.”

Sheriff Receives DOJ Letter

The Sheriff-Coroner Office received on November 15 a letter from U.S. Department of Justice Acting Assistant Attorney General Alan Hansen inquiring whether the sheriff office is in conflict with Executive Order 1373 if a custody deputy does not inform ICE of the immigration status of inmates. “The department is concerned that this appears to restrict the sending or requesting of information regarding immigration status in violation of section 1373 (a) and (b),” wrote Hansen.

The letter was directed to Mary Jay Robb, the Chief for Management Services in the Sheriff’s Office.

Livingston would not respond to calls from the Herald with questions about the letter. The Sheriff’s Public Information Officer Jimmy Lee instead referred calls to County Administrator David Twa.

One program that wasn’t included in the DOJ inquiry is the Stand Together CoCo program, which the Board of Supervisors approved in September with $500,000 in state AB 109 funds to help launch the program.  The Public Defender’s Office is overseeing the program.

Twa confirmed that the DOJ letter is about the state’s sanctuary policies, not the county’s new policy that will not go into effect until next year.

County Has Until Today to Respond to DOJ

The county needs to respond to the DOJ inquiry by today, Friday, Dec. 8.

The Stand Together program will monitor ICE arrests of undocumented immigrants in the county.  The program that is also funded through private sources will have counselors visiting undocumented immigrants held at West County Jail.  The Stand Together CoCo program expects to counsel up to 180 undocumented immigrants held at the jail during the first six months of the program.  The program gets underway January 1, 2018.

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Man shot, dies early Sunday morning on rural road in Antioch

Sunday, December 3rd, 2017

City’s 10th homicide of the year

By Sergeant John Fortner #3264, Antioch Police Investigations Division, Violent Crimes Unit

On Sunday, December 3, 2017 at 2:27 a.m., Antioch Police patrol officers responded to the call of a male subject down on the roadway on Empire Mine Road near Deer Valley Road. When officers arrived, they located a subject on the roadway suffering from injuries consistent with being shot with a firearm. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

Antioch Police Investigators were called to the scene and are in the early stages of the investigation. According to the crime statistics on the City’s website this is the 10th homicide of the year in Antioch.

No further information will be released at this time. Anyone with information regarding this case is encouraged to call Detective Colley with the Antioch Police Department at (925) 779-6922 or the Antioch Police Department non-emergency line at (925) 778-2441. You may also text-a-tip to 274637 (CRIMES) using the key word ANTIOCH.

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Next Antioch Neighborhood Cleanup is this Saturday, Dec. 2

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

The Antioch Police Department is excited to announce the 86th installment of the Neighborhood Cleanup Program. This is a collaborative community effort which involves active participation from The Antioch Police Department Crime Prevention Commission; Neighborhood Watch Program; Volunteers in Police Service; community volunteers and the Public Works Department.

Collectively, “We”, everyone who works and lives in the City Antioch, can make a difference and improve the quality of life. It’s our community and it’s our chance to make a difference.

The City of Antioch Neighborhood Cleanup program is not just for residential neighborhoods. It is a program that will change venues on a monthly basis and it will include business and commercial areas as well. Neighborhoods that are free of trash and refuse are inviting, and a clean community instills a sense of community pride.

The 86th Neighborhood Cleanup event will occur on Saturday, December 2, 2017 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. We will be cleaning the neighborhood near Williamson Ranch Park from Hillcrest, Lone Tree Way, Furlong Way, Indian Hill Drive and Morgan Way. Volunteers will meet at Williamson Ranch Park and park in the parking lot. (See map).

Volunteers will receive instructions and the equipment necessary to accomplish the goal. The targeted area is within walking distance. Excluding inclement weather, future Neighborhood Cleanup events are scheduled for the first Saturday of every month and the locations will be announced in advance.

Remember, cleaning up your neighborhood can make life better for your family, your neighbors and your community!

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Antioch Police arrest three for car theft Tuesday afternoon

Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

Two car theft suspects sit in handcuffs on the curb, while a third stands against a tree and speaks with an Antioch Police Officer, Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 28, 2017. Photos by APD

From APD Facebook page

On Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 28, 2017 an alert citizen spotted an APD motorcycle officer in the area of Empire Ave. and Neroly Rd. and alerted him to suspicious people seen walking away from a vehicle in the area of Laurel Rd. and the SR-4 Bypass. Ofc. Johnsen saw three people walking on Laurel Rd., now in the City of Oakley, and when he reached the car the citizen was concerned about, he quickly learned it had been reported as stolen to the Antioch Police yesterday afternoon.

Ofc. Johnsen was able to relocate the subjects he had seen moments earlier, and the investigation led to all three (a 35-year-old male from Antioch, a 21-year-old male from Antioch, and a 20-year-old female from Brentwood) being arrested for vehicle theft.

This is another example of an alert and concerned citizen taking the time to report suspicious activity to the police, and it not only led to arrests being made, but also helped the victim of this crime have their vehicle returned to them in just over a day’s time! Thanks to not only this person, but everyone that helps us in our daily responses to calls from the public. We rely on you, and without you, many of these incidents would go undetected!

 

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Antioch police, Harbormaster rescue man Antioch from river Monday afternoon

Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

Antioch Police officers on the Harbormaster’s boat prepare to rescue a man in the river, Monday afternoon, Nov. 27, 2017. Photos by APD

From APD Facebook page

Early Monday afternoon, Nov. 27, 2017 the Antioch Police Department received calls regarding a male that was seen in the water in the area of the river north of the Antioch Lumber building. The calls advised that the person was yelling for help, and appeared in distress.

Antioch Police officer with rescued man head back to shore.

Officers quickly arrived in the area, and found that the man (a 25-year-old Antioch man), was several hundred feet out from shore and appeared in need of assistance. Law enforcement water support wasn’t immediately available, so officers responded to the Antioch Marina, and contacted Harbormaster James Pflueger who immediately assisted with the use of his boat.

The man was successfully rescued from his predicament, and was transported to a local hospital for treatment of hypothermia as the water temperature was less than 60 degrees. The circumstances surrounding how the man ended up in the water remain under investigation, but a happy ending nonetheless to quite a scary situation.

According to Sgt. Dee described the man as Hispanic, shirtless and “5150”, a reference to a section of California state law which means he was a danger to himself and others.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

 

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Antioch Council to consider signing bonuses for recruiting lateral police officers at Tuesday meeting

Monday, November 27th, 2017

An effort to increase number of sworn from current 96 to 103 budgeted and 111 promised

By Allen Payton

At their meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 28 the Antioch City Council will consider offering signing bonuses of $10,000 each, to help attract and recruit police officers from other agencies to come to work for the Antioch Police Department. It is part of a proposed employee referral and recruitment program that includes signing bonus/incentives for qualified lateral police officers. The effort is expected to help increase sooner the number of sworn officers, which has been a struggle since the Measure C half-cent sales tax was placed on the ballot and passed in 2013. Police recruiting bonuses ACC112817 Item 9

Currently the city has 96 sworn officers on the force, just seven more than the 89 when Measure C was placed on the ballot in 2013. The staff report states that since Measure C passed, “forty-nine (49) sworn officers have been hired. During that same period however, thirty-five (35) sworn officers have separated employment, resulting in only a net gain of fourteen (14) sworn officers.” However, seven of the positions were funded in the 2013-14 budget, approved before the sales tax measure passed and collection of the additional revenues began.

The mayor and council at that time stated there were 89 sworn officers on the force and promised to hire 22 additional sworn officers immediately if voters passed Measure C to increase the total number of sworn officers to 111. However, the city budget only includes a total of 103 sworn officers in this fiscal year’s budget and 104 in next year’s.

The staff report explains that the “The fiscal impact will be determined solely by the number of lateral applicants hired while the program is in effect. Per lateral officer, the fiscal impact is estimated to be $23,253. This assumes the lateral officer is hired at Step E and is eligible to take

advantage of the full incentive package. However, financial incentives are distributed in three separate increments over the course of three years, and leave incentives would be taken in much smaller increments (if at all). lt is believed most, if not all, of the costs would be covered through salary savings from vacancies.”

The report further explains the reason for the proposed incentives. “The recruitment of qualified lateral applicants for the position of police officer is becoming increasingly difficult, as the job market is very open and competitive. Recently, the department scheduled interviews for five lateral officers from four different agencies, and none of them showed up. Additionally, we had two recent lateral hires (from Oakland PD) that quit and returned back to their agency in large part due to financial incentives Oakland offered for them to return. Many departments have adopted recruitment incentives to attract qualified laterals,” including Palo Alto, Modesto, Fairfield and BART. Incentives offered by those department range in size from $10,000 to $25,000.

The matter is the final item on the agenda for council meeting which begins at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall, located at W. Third, W. Second and H Streets in downtown. You can also watch it live on local cable access channel 24 or livestreaming on the city’s website at http://www.ci.antioch.ca.us/CityGov/citycouncilmeetings.htm.

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Antioch Police force adds another officer, recruited from Brentwood PD

Monday, November 27th, 2017

Antioch Police Chief Tammany Brooks with Officer Morteza Amiri. Photo courtesy of APD

From the Antioch Police Department Facebook posted page on Monday, November 27, 2017

Please say hello to the newest member of the Antioch PD family, Officer Morteza Amiri. Pictured here with Chief Tammany Brooks, Morteza was sworn in today. He is a lateral officer from the Brentwood Police Department, and comes to us with 3 years of experience.

Morteza was born and raised in the Bay Area, and attended high school in Dublin. After high school, Morteza attended Los Positas College before working as a Loss Prevention Agent for both Old Navy and Target in Antioch.

Morteza is an Antioch homeowner, and is excited to be able to work with the community and his peers to combat crime in Antioch. He currently attends California Coast University, and is pursuing his Bachelor’s degree.

When he is not working, Morteza can be found hiking with his 18-month -ld Belgian Malinois. He also enjoys traveling and trying different types of food.

A fun fact about Officer Amiri is that because he has always admired the Antioch Police Department, he would sometimes switch his radio from the Brentwood radio channel and accidentally answer up to respond to the Antioch PD calls…….guess it was meant to be!

Congratulations Morteza and welcome!

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It’s time Antioch started using correct, honest figures for Measure C police staffing and funding

Sunday, November 19th, 2017

The City of Antioch’s 2016-2017 Measure C Annual Status Report

By Allen Payton, Publisher

The City of Antioch’s 2016-2017 Measure C Annual Status Report was recently received in the mail and I took the time to read it. Unfortunately, what I discovered was it provides false information to the public. Now, I don’t blame city staff. They’re merely reporting and acting on the direction of the city council. But, it’s the direction of the past mayor and city council which chose to play games and manipulate the police staffing numbers and budget to make things look better than they really are. So, it’s time the new mayor, mayor pro tem and council gave new direction to the city staff to use the correct and honest figures for Measure C.

Mayor and Council Promised 22 More Sworn Officers

Here are the facts, again. In the ballot argument for Measure C, signed by then-Mayor Wade Harper and the rest of the city council at that time, which included current Council Members Monica Wilson and Tony Tiscareno, it stated:

“A Yes on Measure C will allow us to immediately hire 22 new police officers, decreasing the time it takes to respond to 911 calls. It will also provide funds to reduce the number of gang-related homicides, assaults and robberies.

Our police force has dwindled from 126 officers four years ago to only 89 today. 911 response times have increased and violent crime is up 30%. We feel unsafe in our homes and are in constant fear of becoming victims of crime.”

We Had 89 Sworn Officers

The ballot argument concluded with and was signed by the following:

“Antioch needs funds now to lower crime and to cleanup dilapidated properties. Your voting Yes on Measure C will give us the financial boost we need to turn Antioch around. Thank you.

Sergeant Tom Fuhrmann, President, Antioch Police Officers’ Association; Brittney Gougeon, Founder, Take Back Antioch; Joyann Motts, President, Antioch Unified School Board; Hans Ho, Past Chair, Antioch Crime Prevention Commission/ Neighborhood Watch Coordinator; Antioch City Council; Wade Harper, Mayor of Antioch/ Retired Police Lieutenant”

They Owed Us 111 Total Sworn Officers

My math tells me that would bring the total to 111 sworn officers (89 + 22). The ballot was written and submitted in either July or August 2013 in time for the sample ballots to be printed and mailed to the voters. So we had 89 sworn officers on the force being paid for out of the budget before the funds from Measure C began to be collected.

Please read the entire ballot statement and arguments, here – http://www.smartvoter.org/2013/11/05/ca/cc/meas/C/.

They Chose to Use 82 Sworn Officers as the Base, Instead

However, by the time Measure C passed in November, the Antioch Police Department had lost seven more officers reducing the force to just 82 sworn officers. So, that was the figure the mayor and council at that time voted and gave direction to city staff to use as the base figure. Adding 22 more officers only gives we the taxpaying and voting public a total of 104 sworn officers – which is the figure the council and staff have accounted for in next year’s budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year.

That was wrong and dishonest of them to do, because the budget already included enough for 89 sworn officers and Measure C is supposed to pay for 22 “new officers” according to the ballot argument.

Council Member Lori Ogorchock was elected in November 2014 and Mayor Sean Wright and Mayor Pro Tem Lamar Thorpe were elected last November long after Measure C passed. But they all inherited the commitments and promises of the past council to give us the 22 additional officers from Measure C, on top of the 89 we had at the time the ballot argument was written and signed, and “immediately.”

Past Police Chief Allan Cantando and current Chief Tammany Brooks have said they’ve been doing everything they can to continue to add officers to the force and have hired 49 sworn police officers since the passage of Measure C, according to Brooks’ portion of the report. However, due to past council actions including the very rich 3% at age 50 retirement benefit – which was fortunately changed in 2012 for new hires – and due to other attrition, the department has lost 35 sworn officers during that time. That brings the total number of sworn officers to just 96. That was news to me as I was under the impression we had reached and remained at the 100-officer level.

They Owe Use 15 More Sworn Police Officers

That’s just seven more officers than the city had in 2013 when Measure C was placed on the ballot. Here we are over four years later, certainly not the “immediately” as the then-mayor and council promised us. The current council owes us another 15 sworn officers paid for by Measure C funds based on simple math of 111 – 96 = 15.

Brook’s comment that “our net gain is currently 14,” is only correct when comparing it to what has happened “Since the passage of Measure C in 2013,” as the first sentence of his comments stated. It’s not correct when comparing that figure to how many officers we were actually promised if we passed Measure C.

Only seven of those 14 sworn officers are supposed to be paid for from Measure C funds and the fact is the city has only gained a net seven additional officers, not 14 from the revenue generated by the extra half-cent sales tax in Antioch.

It all goes back to the number of officers the budget was paying for at the time the ballot argument was written and signed, and the promise made which was 89.

The worst part is, even before they have given us the 22 additional officers, the previous mayor and council, of which Ogorchock was a part, voted unanimously to give pay raises to the police and the rest of the city staff totaling $9.2 million in contracts that run one year beyond the sunset of Measure C. (They did so on Election Night, by the way after it was too late for the voters to know what was in the pay and benefits packages before they voted). The additional half-cent sales tax only lasts until 2020. The contracts run through 2021. (See related articles, here and here)

Now They’re Asking for a One-Cent Sales Tax

Yet, now city staff is already asking for we the people to consider voting, not for a renewal of the half-cent sales tax, but an increase to a one-cent sales tax when Measure C expires. Among other questions about city services and issues facing our community, a recent phone survey, approved  by City Manager Ron Bernal and paid for out of his discretionary funds, asked residents if we would support that. The audacity to even us ask to consider supporting a renewal of the half-cent sales tax, much less doubling it, before fulfilling the promise and commitment made to we the people under Measure C and having spent $9.2 million on pay raises, seriously had me stunned.

They’ve Only Budgeted for 104 Sworn Officers

The last part of Chief Brooks final sentence in the report is correct: “As of June 30, 2017, $2,947,361 remains unspent pending allocation to enhancing Police and Code Enforcement services, as promised to voters.” At least he recognizes that a promise was made to the voters. But, I challenge the amount remaining unspent, since that figure should be much higher if the proper figure of 111 sworn officers was accounted for, not 103 currently and 104 in next year’s budget.

We just need the city council to remember what that promise actually was – 22 additional officers on top of the 89 sworn we already had – and ensure we are provided the 111 sworn officers Antioch needs to fight and bring down crime, which is supposed to be their highest priority. It’s time to put our money where their mouths are.

One Promise Broken, Another Can Still Be Kept

Obviously, they haven’t been able to keep the part of the promise of hiring the 22 additional officers “immediately”. But, the current city council can fulfill the promise of 111 total sworn officers as we are due, by giving new direction to staff to use the correct, honest figure of 89 sworn officers as the base not 82.

What’s that old saying – figures lie and liars figure? The figure of 82 sworn officers the city has been using since 2013 is just plain dishonest. I expect Mayor Wright, Mayor Pro Tem Thorpe and Council Member Ogorchock who were not part of the council that gave that misdirection to staff, to correct this and give new direction using 89 as the base figure. I would also hope that Council Members Wilson and Tiscareno would see the error of their ways and join them in correcting it.

We get enough of this statistical and fiscal game playing with our government and our money from Washington, DC and Sacramento, already. It should never be allowed at the local level. If the council and staff ever hope to see Measure C renewed, or much less doubled – which I seriously doubt will be supported (and we’ll see once the results of the recent survey are made public) – the council needs to correct this. Also, if Sgt. Tom Fuhrmann, Joy Motts and Hans Ho want to maintain their integrity, they will make sure the council does so, because they added their names and reputations to the ballot argument in which the promises were made to help ensure Measure C’s passage. So they all made that same promise.

Reopen Employee Contracts to Ensure Funding for 111 Officers

We the people need the council to not only start using the correct base of 89 sworn officer, we need one of the three current council members who voted for the pay raises last year to join Wright and Thorpe in reopening and renegotiating the city employee contracts. That is the only way to ensure there is enough money in the budget to pay for the 111 sworn officers we were promised.

Unfortunately, that still won’t get us to the 1.2 officers per 1,000 population level of 132 sworn police officers that we’ve been needing for the past 20 years. But, it will have to do, for now.

And the time to face the facts, take responsible action, be honest with we the people and address and fix these matters is now.

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