Force back down to 87 sworn officers. Reported numbers don’t match, again.
By Barbara Zivica
The Antioch Police Department remains understaffed despite passage of Measure C, a one half cent increase in sales in 2013 and Measure O, a business license tax affecting rental properties in 2014. Excuses, excuses.
Back in June, 2013 the department was saying they had 87 full-time, sworn police officers, only 75 who were at full duty capacity although they had money to hire 102 officers. The excuse was that the application process was so rigorous they couldn’t hire fast enough to replace those who retired or quit. I called the excuse absurd because the department has had the same hiring process for years.
In July of 2014 Chief Allan Cantando stated that staffing was currently at 88 sworn officers and “Antioch is the second most populous city in Contra Costa County. Concord, which is the most populous city currently has 148 sworn officers, Richmond, the third most populous city currently has 190 sworn officers.” The same month William Dee, President of APOA, stated that Antioch was recently deemed the 4th Most Dangerous City in California per FBI statistics.
According to the recently released Sales Tax Citizens Oversight Committee Report, “At present Antioch has 87 sworn police officers and one per diem Police Captain This is five more officers than Antioch had in October 2013 based on information given to the committee.”
This statement obviously does not jive with reports given by APD to Council. (see above) Note Chief Cantando’s excuse now is that the problem is not a lack of applicants, it’s a lack of quality applicants who fall out during the hiring process. I query this excuse also, although there may a kernel of truth in that quality candidates just may not want to work in Antioch. I can’t say I blame them.
Although the Bay Area economy is on the rebound, many Antioch residents have either moved to neighboring jurisdictions or have announced their intent to. Reasons include the higher sales tax, abundance of empty commercial spaces, lack of good restaurants and the continuing crime problems, none of which have improved since Wade Harper, who promised the hiring of 22 more police officers, took office. (The Mayor, who was recently served with a recall petition, just announced his intention to run for re-election in 2016.)
As for Chief Cantando, who has been on the force since 1987, I suspect he is at or nearing retirement age. When he does leave, despite many excellent officers on the force, I sincerely hope the City Manager and Council doesn’t promote from within the department, searching instead to hire a strong chief, like former Chief Jim Hyde, someone who has no prior alliances in the City and who can view our continuing crime problems more objectively and effectively.