Three-Pronged Strategy to Fight Antioch Crime

By Walter Ruehlig

These are trying times for Antioch. Fact is, there’s trouble brewing in Dodge City and it’s spelled lawlessness.

This in no manner deters from the good work done by Police Chief Allan Cantando and his crew of dedicated men and women. Under Cantando’s watch homicides dropped from thirteen in 2010 to five in 2011. That’s no small potatoes. Overall, violent crimes dropped some 5%.

Other good city news is the high schools have seen lowered suspension rates and the graduation drop out rate fell from 27% to 18%.

Where Antioch got hit hard, though, was in burglaries, up over 25% in 2011. The epidemic of recent shootings also put this year off to a very shaky start in the violence realm. With a city staff payroll that is the same as Brentwood, which is half our size, even Houdini must run out of tricks.

Antioch has not been replacing officer retirees and is now paying the Piper. We are simply asking too much of a police force to be down some 30 sworn officers. We’ve got the size of the police force in the 1970’s when we were more a burg.

The pickle is both in size and in challenging demographics. Antioch has the highest rate of population under eighteen (38%) in the County; one of the highest rates of foreclosures in the state, hence causing transitory issues; an increase of 250% in foster home and 150% in group home population; a staggering influx of urban migrants that Sociology 101, unarguably, instructs takes time to absorb and acclimate.

I knew bad times were in gear when a friend called me from Key West, Florida asking me if the wild west had broken out in Antioch. He had seen news on Huffington Post of the six-person garage party shooting, knowing it before I did. It was carried nationwide through the Associated Press.

Then the home invasion happened. To think, these bummers just when we were recovering from the shocks of the Dugard decades-long kidnapping story and the god-awful Jasmine Davis locked-in-her room and brutalized tragedy.

Right or wrong, people can get numb about shootings in the Sycamore corridor because they may say to themselves, “Well, I avoid the area.” A home invasion, though, touches a different nerve. A home, after all, is meant to be our castle.

Given the upheavals, I suggest we need a three-pronged attack to take control and not let fear rule the day.

Firstly, more boots on the ground. The City Council is to be commended for saying that come hell or high water they will find the money for two or three more officers for immediate hire. Remember, response time was once closer to five minutes. It is now closer to eight. A great deal of havoc can occur in those lost three minutes.

Then there’s the issue of no response, as many calls are now simply off the priority radar screen. I know, because my alarm system would go off and there’d be no response.

Exhibit B: A neighbor down the street saw four youth knock down a front door in December and called the police to be told they had no available units because of a sprawling fracas somewhere. As the youths were leaving the home some ten minutes later the neighbor called again and now was told the police were free to come out. No doubt, we need more bodies out there.

Secondly, all citizenry need be proactive. We’re told that God helps those who help themselves. Simple things can make a difference in defending your life and property. Light sensors, outside cameras, locked side gates and front door grills; a reinforced garage side-door; a police lock; dog; alarm systems (we save the monthly fee by hooking up our own, which rings to our phone). Cold truth is, why would a thug hit your home when easier pickings are down the street?

Thirdly, unite. Strength is in numbers and Neighborhood Watch is a proven safeguard. I know it turned our neighborhood around.

Biggest success was driving out a house with 53 police calls. Neighbors all started calling the police when there were issues. We also wrote the landlord, who we threatened to individually bring to small claims court and sue for $5,000 for interfering with our right of enjoyment. The landlord finally got rid of the chronic offenders and neighborhood disruption has calmed immeasurably.

Watching out for each other while others are working or on vacation and being the eyes and ears of the police does wonders. I recommend neighbors exchange work or cell numbers and notify each other of suspicious activity like a truck in their driveway during a weekday. One scam out there is to have a truck with some phony carpet cleaning or other tag and pick a house clean while people on the street “mind their own business.”

Antioch has too many good people and too many gems to give up on; career-themed schools, the Delta, Black Diamond Mines, Contra Loma Reservoir, Lone Tree Golf Course and Event Center,, 28 city parks, the Water Park, Prewett Community Center, the El Campanil Theatre, Antioch Historical Society, unchopped hills and undulating streets, etc. I know that I’m not giving up. I hope you’re not.

It only takes a single lamp post to lighten a darkened street. A small core of committed individuals focused on the crime problem can turn this around. Against all predictions, Rudy Guliani did it in New York. Antioch’s not a city of eight million, so it’s not impossible.

Antioch is our home. It’s worth fighting for.

3 Comments to “Three-Pronged Strategy to Fight Antioch Crime”

  1. Bill Cook says:

    Well said Walter. The phone number for Neighborhood Watch is (925)779-6166. There are 7 Crime Prevention Commissioners that will help you start a new Neighborhood Watch or speak at existing NHW meetings.It’s a voice maul so leave your name and a phone number you can be reached at and they will get back to you with in 24 hours.

  2. Bill Cook says:

    Sorry I put the wrong phone number. Right phone number is (925)779-6980.

  3. Arne Simonsen says:

    Good approach Walter! And I was pleased to read that you were not calling for another parcel tax lol 🙂

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