City Should Have Prepared for Fiscal Crisis

Antioch’s interim police Chief Allan Cantando told the City Council last week that officers will investigate property crimes only when the value of loss is large, the suspect left fingerprints at the crime, is in custody or can be ID’d by witnesses. The department will continue to mail out forms for residents to report property damage or loss. 

This isn’t a new idea. In fact, back in February 1993, former Police Chief Dave Lewis announced what he ironically called a Service Enhancement Program. The announcement informed residents that 1) the State of California was in a financial crisis “with no end in sight” resulting in a reduction of its financial obligations to counties and cities. 2) calls for service were continuing to increase at the rate of approximately 7% annually, while staffing had not increased over the past 3 years, resulting in too much volume for existing staffing levels. 

Chief Lewis went on to state that “Out of 16 cities our size in California, we have the fourth highest crime rate and a population that grows by 25,000 a year: Despite that, we haven’t been able to hire any additional officers for the past three years and don’t expect to be able to hire more for another two or three years.”   
His solution was to create a Community Oriented Policing Program, allowing officers to get back into the community and become a resource for handling problems more effectively. Additionally, the new program would reduce the need for officer response to calls that were no-lead or low priority in nature by documenting the call for service by creating a report via phone/computer, or by mail. 

One has to ask why Antioch appears to be suffering more than some neighboring cities. Fiscal mismanagement? While it’s true that the city is suffering from an overall economic downturn, the writing was on the wall a few years back and trimming the budget and negotiating contracts with all employee groups requiring they pay a share of retirement cost should have been initiated then.

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