Antioch Council postpones opening of, will study policy on locations for felons in early release program

By James Ott

City leaders have decided to restrict the opening of new social service centers in Antioch for recently released criminals until the city can research their potential impacts to nearby businesses and communities.

At the Tuesday, March 26 council meeting city council voted to require a conditional use permit for the social service centers and to restrict them to business and professional services zones in the city for at least the next 45 days.

The so called “community supervision programs” are a product of State Assembly Bill 109’s attempt to transfer the responsibility of supervising recently released low-level criminals from the state to the county. Private, public, non-profit and for-profit organizations can apply for over $4 million in state aid to provide services like employment and housing help, peer mentoring and other services to help recently released non-violent, non-serious offenders re-integrate into society.

Antioch staff brought the item to the attention of city council because it said that at least one such organization has already applied to open in Antioch.

According to Antioch Community Development Director Tina Wehrmeister, because the city does not yet have adequate ordinances and regulations in place to deal with these new centers that application almost went through and would have allowed the social services center to open across the street from the Nick Rodriguez Community Center which is frequented by seniors and children.

While the goal of the service centers is to reduce the odds of these low-level criminals from re-offending the program is brand new and so it’s effectiveness is untested, city council said. The city is worried about these programs concentrating parolees into cities like Antioch who already have a high crime rate and a reduced police force.

According to Antioch Police Captain Steve McConnell, Antioch has had 107 early release felons return to the city since AB 109 took effect – more than any other nearby city. That compares to Richmond who has 90, while Concord has 77, Pittsburg has 72, Martinez has 30 and Brentwood and Oakley both have 14.

I understand that the horse is already out of the barn, that people are being released and they need help,” said council member Gary Agopian. “So if we’re going to allow these types of facilities in Antioch I think it’s prudent, considering the risk, to study the issue and make sure we’re putting these facilities in places that are not going to create problems.”

Agopian also pointed out that while those that are released from prison are considered non-violent, no-serious, non-sexual offenders that is only based on their most recent conviction so those using the community supervision programs could possibly still have a violent or serious criminal past.

It was information like this that led city council to vote unanimously, (with Mary Rocha abstaining), to enact the emergency ordinance restricting the service centers while city staff research more permanent solutions.

I think we have a responsibility to allow these individuals to get the services they need to become responsible citizens,” said Mayor Wade Harper. “but I’m leaning toward certain restrictions… not near schools, not near parks, not near senior facilities but in a commercial area or near social service offices.”

Todd Billeci, the Director of Field Services for the Contra Costa County Probation Department said that Antioch has time on their side to make the necessary adjustments because the funding and contracts for East, West and Central county community service programs won’t be awarded until May 14.

Also At the Meeting

The City of Antioch will conduct a poll to asses what kind of tax measure it’s constituents might vote for in order to provide money to hire more police officers.

The poll will ask voters if they would favor a half-cent or a three-quarter-cent sales tax measure or if they would prefer taxing rental properties $200 to $250 dollars a year to raise the money.

City Manager Jim Jakel said that the poll’s fine details will be decided and it should go out to Antioch homes in about the next 45 days.

Antioch currently has 102 sworn and 26 non-sworn officers on it’s payroll and it’s costing the city just under $24 million a year.

At the Tuesday, March 26 council meeting Jakel said that the city would need at least $6.8 million from the tax measure to reach the 126 sworn officer and 50 non-sworn officers it is aiming for.

That would require voters adopting at least a three-quarter-cent sales tax Jakel said – which would raise just over $7 million to go towards the new police hires.

It looks like city council’s goal of eventually having 144 sworn officers might be a bit of a stretch right now as it would cost an additional $10.7 million to get to that level and even a one-cent sales tax would only generate an extra $9.4 million – a full $1.3 less than needed.

As a matter of fact, Jakel estimated that it would cost the city $34,645,00 for pay and benefits – which would be more than the city’s entire current budget.

It was also estimated that the city would need an additional $240,000 to provide vehicles and safety equipment for 126 sworn and 50 non-sworn officers.

That number would jump to $1.1 million to provide the same equipment for 144 sworn and 55 non-sworn officers.

5 Comments to “Antioch Council postpones opening of, will study policy on locations for felons in early release program”

  1. karl says:

    what we really need is a “police, work load study” pd departments in california and the other 49 states facing the very same problems antioch has. but most of them approaching this problem very smart. instead have no solutions, no plans, even rocha, agopian and harper run their election on “though on crime” our city council wants to raise taxes. nobody knows why and nobody shows any effort to be “brutally honest” (agopians words) the council/ city is hiring and spending tausend of dollars every month on third parties. here, where we talking about millions of dollars….nothing.
    no effort.

    last week was the beginning of a “training program, how to govern” the city hired a person, we, again spend tausends of dollars, to “train our council” in many hour long meetings. this tax money could have been used to hire an other code enforcement.

    i wished the council would hold hour long meeting to find solutions for our crime problems.
    i wished our council would have their priorities straight, and not their personal agendas.

  2. antiochan says:

    I hope everyone in this area will watch the ABC go local video shot in San Jose which shows the Door-Knock Burglary. The woman with a baby knocks on the door, then the two guys proceed to attack the home’s side entrance with tools. One of them has a hand-held scanner to monitor whether police are on the way. This is the kind of thing we’re up against. Seriously, no one can afford to be careless.

  3. Antioch resident says:

    I agree with karly! Also why am I paying state/city taxes for anything!!!!wen I call Antioch pd for help they ask me 50/50 questions n show up 2-4hours later!!! The dispatch are sometimes rude… It’s just really frustrating to try n live n raise a family the “right” way, 9-5 w/no gov assistance in the “ghetto” !!! There are a lot of annoying no life’s that just hang around near people’s houses, stores, parks, etc that should be deported to an deserted island where they can go ahead n play survivor or kill them selves instead of free loading, accidentally shooting innocent people!!!! I’m so sick and tired of this system that we have!!! Or force these loser women that pop out babies n not take care of them to tie their tubes!!! I’m sorry to be so harsh but these people are just sickening !!! Bad kids all over the street ,just a cycle!!! How bout we focus on these real things!!!!

  4. We had a beautiful place to raise kids. Now it’s going to be a playground for the x-felons. Who is going to get these contracts for services rehabs? Someone is getting rich at the expense of what once was a residential area of working people. Shame on you Antioch.

    • Publisher says:

      Antioch Resident,
      Just as an FYI, the City of Antioch had nothing to do with the return of the felons being released back to our community. The state is reducing their budget by forcing the Counties to pick up the tab for probation instead of supervision through state parole. Please read the article and you will learn that the City Council “decided to restrict the opening of new social service centers in Antioch for recently released criminals until the city can research their potential impacts to nearby businesses and communities.” Your challenge is with the County and State.
      Allen Payton, Publisher

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