Chief: State Release of Criminals May Add to Thefts

By James Ott

While violent crime in Antioch declined 5.3 percent in 2011 compared with 2010 and its record breaking 13 murders, property crime has jumped over 25 percent, according to a presentation at Tuesday’s City Council meeting by Police Chief Allan Cantando.

Cantando said the cause of the sharp rise in property crimes, including increases of nearly 23 percent in burglary and 50 percent in theft, is hard to pinpoint because of a new online crime reporting system that simplifies the reporting of property crimes. “It’s difficult for me to say if it actually went up that much or if people are reporting more accurately,” said Cantando. “But those are the figures so those are what we have to live with.”

The increase in crimes like theft could also be related to the state’s release of some criminals from prison, he added. No direct explanation was provided for the more than 51 percent increase in arsons – 56 in 2011 versus 37 in 2010.

Despite the large uptick in non-violent crimes, total arrests last year were down an average of 8 percent. That is most likely a direct result of a reduced police force, said the chief. The department is currently looking to hire two new officers, although Cantando said that more are needed.

After the presentation, the council floated the idea of approving the hiring of more than two new officers – perhaps as many as five. Public Employees Union Local 1 and the Antioch Police Officer’s Association, however, are still in labor negotiations with the city. As many as 120 officer positions have been authorized, but due to budget constraints the city can only afford 92 sworn officers.

The council and police chief agreed that more funds are needed to hire more officers, lamenting the fact that the majority of voters seem reluctant to pay out of pocket to help the police force. Council Member Mary Rocha cited the rejection in November 2010 of the Measure P half-cent sales tax hike for public safety.

To view the complete police crime statistics presentation as part of the city council agenda or as part of the city council video, visit the city website at

City Clerk and Treasurer on June ballot

Also at the meeting, the Council voted unanimously to place a measure on the June 2012 ballot to make the City Clerk and City Treasurer both appointed positions. Currently the two positions are elected. Salaries and benefits cost $12,000 to $20,000 per position, according to city staff. At a previous meeting the council decided that it would be more cost effective to have the positions be appointments by the city council rather than paid, elected positions.

The clerk and treasurer duties have been increasingly handled by professional staff and consultants. The cost of placing the measure on the June 2012 ballot is estimated at $105,000.

Former Antioch Council Member Martha Parsons suggested that Antioch adopt a rotating mayor’s position in which every elected council member would get a chance to serve as mayor of Antioch for one year, instead of electing a mayor for four years. Parsons said that the switch would provide Antioch with fresh views each time the mayoral seat was rotated to a new council member. She pointed out that only Brentwood, Martinez, San Ramon and Richmond have an elected mayor, while the other 14 cities in the county use the rotating system.

Mayor Davis added the item for council discussion and consideration at the next council meeting.

As part of the consent calendar, the council purchased a tractor through the National Joint Powers Alliance and Peterson CAT for $160,509 and entered into a 36-month lease with Xerox Corporation for $190,259 plus the unit cost per copy for copiers.

The council did not vote on entering into a contract with Raney Planning and Management for environmental document preparation for the WalMart expansion project. It also held off on filing a grant application with the state’s sustainable communities planning grant and incentive program to gain funding for a plan to upgrade the city’s downtown area.

Antioch resident Julie Young, who lives on and represents the residents of Mimona Court and Minona Drive, addressed the council about concerns with the new Neslon Ranch Park located behind her home. Young said that the park less than ten feet from her back fence is too close and poorly planned and that it threatens nearby residents’ privacy and safety. She claimed that she city staff were unresponsive to her attempts to resolve the issue.

The council will add the item to a future meeting agenda for discussion.

2 Comments to “Chief: State Release of Criminals May Add to Thefts”

  1. karl says:

    we suddenly have about $ 900,000 to hire up to 5 police officers? where does the money comes from? i suggest that we rather hire 20 cso’s, that would free up 20 fully trained officers which do the cso jobs right now.

  2. Bill Cook says:

    Adding 5 Police Officers is a great start, but just a bandaid. We need to get our Police Department back to 126 Police Officers and 20 C.S.O.’s. Crime won’t slowdown until we have enought Officers on the streets of Antioch to stop Criminal Activity and or catch these Criminals and put them in jail.

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