By James Ott
For the first time in over a year Antioch Police Chief Allan Cantando had good news to report regarding law-breaking in the city. After a year of exploding crime rates, the chief said that so far in 2013 total crime is down nearly 20 percent over the same period in 2012.
At a presentation given during the April 24 City Council meeting, Cantando said that violent crime in Antioch was down seven percent while property crime fell over 22 percent this year.
The news was welcome to citizens and leaders alike who have suffered under exploding crime rates and reduced arrest rates along with a reduced police force and a terrible economy.
Antioch has historically been a high-crime city, during the past decade. In 2010 it ranked as the fourth most dangerous city in the Bay Area with 8.46 cases, of crime for every thousand citizens according to a list compiled by the San Francisco Business Times using FBI crime data. The only cities worse than Antioch were Emeryville, (12.54) and notoriously crime-riddled cities Richmond (11.37) and Oakland (15.30). Comparably sized cities like Concord and Fairfield only had to deal with about half the crime rate, and nearby cities such as Pittsburg, (2.34) were almost saintly in comparison.
While overall crime has been increasing in Antioch for several years, last year saw a large increase in both violent and property crime that put real fear into residents. Compared to 2011, 2012 saw double the homicides, 38 percent more cases of rape, and 30 percent more assaults. Last year there was also a 27 percent average increase in property crimes like theft and burglaries.
Because 2012 was such a bad year for crime in Antioch, Cantando’s news that crime is down at all is good news but he also said that the numbers could be skewed a bit because they are being compared to 2012’s rates.
“Keep in mind that we are comparing numbers to 2012 which was a very bad crime year for the city of Antioch,” said Cantando.
Despite the decrease in crime Cantando’s presentation highlighted another problem that has not improved – despite all of the crime Antioch is still arresting less criminals every year.
So far this year arrest rates were only down 6.6 over last year but it still continues a trend that has been going on for years. In 2009 Antioch police made 5398 arrests and that number has decreased every year. Last year only 3186 arrests were made. Those numbers however are likely due to a depleted police force. The city has taken steps recently to try and hire new full time police officers something the police chief and city council members think will make a big difference in both increasing arrest rates and decreasing crime in Antioch.
“As the result of our [low] staffing and trying to rebuild you’ll see that our arrests are down,” said Cantando. “As we bring on more staff we’re hopeful that we’re going to see an increase in those [arrest] numbers.”
Antioch has hired five new police officers as of the chief’s presentation.