Budget cuts, contracting with private security firms, help from retired police officers needed
By Allen Payton, Publisher
With the continued crime problem in Antioch, and the need for additional officers, and in light of the city’s financial challenges, in spite of the passage of both Measures C and O, it’s time for new approaches in the police department’s efforts.
No more business as usual.
Budget cuts needed
First, the Council needs to relook at the budget and cut things from lower priority items that are costing the General Fund, such as the $300,000 subsidy to the Antioch Water Park, which could be used to pay for more police, instead. This year they’re allowing outside food in, which competes with their own snack bar, reducing total revenue. It should be run like a business or the Council should consider contracting out its operations. I proposed the idea to Water World, when it first opened. But they were building their Concord water park at the time. Perhaps they’d consider taking it over, now.
In addition, the Council needs to set a policy in place to limit overtime for police officers. The city has spent over $4.4 million in 2011, 2012 and 2013 on police overtime. That’s about $1.46 million per year which is equal to 11 police officers. Now, some of that overtime is necessary for police officers to attend court hearings. But, most of it isn’t. It’s time to redirect those funds to pay for more sworn police officers who will be out on the street fighting crime.
Measure O spending
The city doesn’t need to spend $800,000 per year to eliminate Furlough Fridays. Instead of the current four nine-hour days for a total of 36 hours per week, they could just put the staff to work eight hours on one day, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and seven hours per day 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the other four days, also 36 hours per week. That will allow the public access to services at City Hall Monday through Friday and preserve the $800,000 for hiring more police.
Contract with private security firms
Second, the Council and Chief Cantando need to seriously consider contracting with private security firms, which can expand the police force immediately, at a much lower cost per officer than a sworn police officer on the Antioch force.
Many of the private security company employees are retired police officers and military veterans with all the necessary training to fulfill the role. The city can set standards for whom a company will employ for the contract with the city, ensuring safeguards are in place to protect the rights of citizens, while reporting, responding to and reducing crime.
Allow former police officers to volunteer
Finally, the VIPS program needs to be expanded and include retired police officers who can put their experience, knowledge and skills to work to supplement the police department’s efforts.
When I first proposed the Volunteers In Public Safety program back in the late 1990′s as a member of the Antioch City Council, it was envisioned to be like San Joaquin County’s S.T.A.R.S. program. That program puts to work retired Deputy Sheriffs as volunteers to provide eyes and ears to the department and a police presence throughout the city. I expected the VIPS to drive the patrol cars to provide a deterrence in the neighborhoods.
While I appreciate the good work the current VIPS members do to supplement the efforts of the APD, the program should be expanded to include retired police officers. There are some in Antioch and elsewhere who are willing to volunteer their time and expertise.
One specific idea is to form a Volunteer Investigative Support Unit.
Greg Glod, a former Antioch Police Detective, who spent 26 years with the Secret Service and is now the Deputy Director of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency in Washington, D.C., is spearheading the effort. Joining him are retired Antioch Police Sgt. Larry Hopwood and Detective Ron Rackley.
They want to assist the department, first with cold cases, and believe they can obtain a National Institute of Justice grant to offset any costs.
“Across the country, they are going to grassrooots efforts with a volunteer force to support the police department,” Glod stated, recently. “Retired police officers, researchers and academics are forming investigative support units.”
Following are links to the national VIPS website and two examples of public safety volunteer programs in California.
According to the site, www.policevolunteers.org, “The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) www.theiacp.org manages and implements the Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) Program in partnership with the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice…”
To view information about the San Joaquin County Sheriff Department’s “award winning, nationally recognized” S.T.A.R.S. volunteer program, click here.
To view what San Diego’s Police Department does with their volunteer program, click here.
To view another volunteer program in Charlotte, NC, click here.
First cold case
The first investigation the former Antioch officers want to work on is the cold case of Suzanne Bombardier, who was 14 when she was murdered in June, 1980, after being kidnapped, raped and stabbed through the heart. Her body was dumped in the river.
“We want closure for the family and ourselves, too,” said Rackley, who took the original report. “We believe there are still more investigative leads available.”
“There are suspects in the case that can be investigated,” stated Glod, who was a juvenile sexual assault detective at the time and worked the case.
For more information about the case, click here.
A more detailed article on the effort to close the Bombardier case will be published in the future.