Antioch City Manager admits to discrepancies in police staffing numbers, not indisputable

By John Crowder

At the October 28 meeting of the Antioch City Council, a presentation on Measure C was given by Tammany Brooks, Field Services Division Captain of the Antioch Police Department (APD) and Michelle Fitzer, Administrative Services Director for the City of Antioch. That presentation, suggesting there has been significant improvement in police officer staffing, represented as an increase of almost 20%, has now been called into question.

In the city’s October 27 news release about the report, Mayor Wade Harper stated “There has been a lot of misinformation being spread around about what the City is doing with the funds from Measure C, so it’s nice to have the indisputable facts in this Status Report that clearly demonstrate my colleagues and I have kept the promises we made to the community.”

Then, just prior to the presentation at the meeting, Harper stated that a lot of information people had been receiving lately about Measure O were, “flat out lies,” in response to campaign mailers sent out by the No on Measure O committee.

It was presumed the presentation by Brooks and Fitzer would correct the record.

Less than two days after the article about the city council meeting was posted online on the Antioch Herald website, however, resident Rich Buongiorno commented on it, providing statistics which cast doubt on the veracity of the statements made during the meeting.

Buongiorno has been leading a recall effort against Harper, specifically for what he considers Harper’s lack of action to adequately address the city’s crime problem.

In his on-line comments, which can be viewed here, Buongiorno stated that the Contra Costa Times reported APD sworn staffing in the latter part of 2013 was 83 in an August 16 article, 85 in an October 15 article, and 84 in a November 27 article. Brooks and Fitzer said during their presentation that the number was 76 in October of 2013. Buongiorno contends that the presentation given at the council meeting provided a lower starting number in order to mislead the public into believing the percentage increase in sworn officers was much greater than has actually occurred.

The November, 2013 Chief’s report, which can be viewed, here, under Current Staffing Levels Sworn Positions it shows a figure of “73 Full-Duty Officers,” as compared to 74 full-duty officers in July, 2013.

A look at the reports provided to the Antioch City Council by the APD regarding staffing levels over the last two years lends support to the claims made by Buongiorno. Indeed, they could be read as even more damning than he suggests.

Quarterly reports given by APD to the city council, which can all be found on the city’s website by looking at the agenda for the meetings at which reports were given, state that the sworn staffing levels were as follows:

11/13/2012 86

2/12/2013 88

4/23/2013 92

7/30/2013 84 sworn, 74 full-duty

11/26/2013 84 sworn, 73 full-duty

1/28/2014 81

4/22/2014 86

7/22/2014 88

10/21/2014 91

Based on the numbers given during the presentations, APD sworn staff has still not returned to the high of 92 shown for April 23, 2013. Even the most generous interpretation of the number given, from January to October of this year, only shows an increase of 12.3%, not the 19.6% touted by city staff.

In an interview conducted on November 3, Buongiorno said that, since commenting on the Herald article, “I delved even further into the mystery numbers provided by the City of Antioch.” He also said that he has now incorporated data from the city manager reports into his analysis.

What is significant,” he said, “is that if they are indicating a sworn staffing level of 88, the ‘boots on the street’ level is far below that. With anywhere from 10-15 officers on leave, for whatever reason, that only leaves somewhere between 73 and 78 sworn officers on the street.”

We simply don’t have enough people fighting crime,” Buongiorno concluded.

The Herald contacted city staff, including Fitzer and City Manager Steve Duran, along with APD Chief Allan Cantando and Mayor Harper on Monday night, via email, asking for an explanation of the discrepancy. Fitzer responded on Tuesday morning stating “We will research your questions and get back to you.”

When no response was received, Herald staff contacted them again on Thursday afternoon. Duran responded, about an hour later, that Fitzer was working on it.

Michelle is trying to reconcile discrepancies between the payroll system number, which was lower than another number that had been previously reported. Logically, at least one of the numbers was incorrect,” he said, “and we want to make certain that we have the correct number before giving it out.”

We will get you a number as soon as it is certain,” he added.

When asked about his previous comments about the “indisputable facts” on police staffing and if he had checked their numbers, Harper responded, “I leave the details up to staff to present to us. My goal is to make sure all the money goes to police and code enforcement, so we can be a safer city. The numbers continue to be a moving target. But, I trust staff to do their best to provide accurate information.”

For now the discrepancy remains unresolved. However, Harper confirmed that Cantando is expected to make a presentation to the City Council at their next meeting on Thursday, November 13, about the use of the Measure C funds and police staffing.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

10 Comments to “Antioch City Manager admits to discrepancies in police staffing numbers, not indisputable”

  1. Dale Paris says:

    The truth shall prevail.

    Recall Wade Harper

    • Rich says:

      I am very pleased that the Truth Has Prevailed!! It will be interesting to see how much diverting is going to be exposed now.

    • Rich says:

      All employees at the Antioch Herald that have taken the extra time to do what the City of Antioch SHOULD have done each time I have called them on their numbers – I commend you and all the effort taken to ensure that the citizens of Antioch California are provided with TRUE AND ACCURATE information.

      It is obvious that Mayor Harper is trying to divert attention my placing blame on the city staff when in actuality he has taken ownership of the numbers AND taken ownership of the staffing issues by merely stating in the response to the recall that, “under his leadership” many things have happened and the information is irrefutable.

      I am appalled and ashamed for this city that has a Mayor who places the blame on city staff instead of manning up and admitting he is wrong, has been wrong, and has no excuse for the deceit he has put this city through.

      He claims his only responsibility is to make sure the money goes where it is supposed to. I guess that would be correct since he has approved in 2011, 2012 and 2013 over $4.4 MILLION in overtime alone to police officers only. That does not count base pay, benefits, etc. That is in overtime only.

      Our citizens deserve to know how this city is so poor and can not afford anything, much less increasing staff, and yet find enough to pay that much in overtime without hiring more sworn officers or less expensive CSO’s.

      There is a lot to be held accountable for.

      • Reginald Jamal Brown says:

        Excellent post Rich.

        Absolutely correct about accountability. The city officials need to know we elected them for purpose and if they can’t get the job done, they need to get the heck out.

  2. Jani Fletcher says:

    The Truth Shall Prevail

  3. Lisa says:

    I am glad to see the actual numbers come out. Antioch’s crime rate has sky rocketed over the past few years. Bringing this subject up with City Officials you are always told that they are in shortage of police officers and are in reaction mode with no time to deal with the crime. It was pounded down our throats at city meetings to vote for Measure C and after doing so it gained us no more officers then we had before and the same 1-4 hours wait on an officer to respond. I only wish this would have been done sooner.It not only put our lives in risk but the officers that have to be out here daily.

  4. karl dietzel says:

    while going to all of the council meetings for years now, any numbers given never add up. 2 or 3 meetings latter, at the latest, different numbers are announced. the reality is that nobody knows anymore what they have said just 2 or 3 weeks ago. lol

  5. Andrew Schleder says:

    Great job Antioch Herald. It’s nice to see the press report and act as a watchdog rather than act as a cheerleader for our city, state, and national political leaders.

    • karl dietzel says:

      i so agree with you andrew.

      unfortunately there are no real reporting newspapers etc around anymore. most of them are just overrated copy/ paste social media boards.

  6. Rich says:

    I guess I am getting some REAL heartburn regarding out city and the leadership. Mayor Harper diverts to the staff his indisputable staffing number. He responds with, “When asked about his previous comments about the “indisputable facts” on police staffing and if he had checked their numbers, Harper responded, “I leave the details up to staff to present to us. My goal is to make sure all the money goes to police and code enforcement, so we can be a safer city. The numbers continue to be a moving target. But, I trust staff to do their best to provide accurate information.””. If he is taking ownership of the money and where it goes, I believe we need to solicit the grand jury to look into the City of Antioch receiving a property tax payment of $2,698,572 in April, 2014. That was followed by another payment in June, 2014 of $550,381. All prior to the vote on Measure O during which time the city kept saying they were out of money. Recall the “Community Letter” and the specifics regarding the city’s financial status. There are many such pleas by the city PRIOR to November 4, 2014. When Measure O appeared to have passed then the city partially reveals the funds and immediately gets rid of Friday furloughs, reinstates 40 hour work weeks, paid raises and COLA, etc. I wonder if the unions were aware f this since the city could have restored everything back in June versus January 2015? If they did know what does that constitute? Harper is taking ownership in his own words of the money situation so are we looking at malfeasance, misfeasance, nonfeasance and/or colusion? Antioch Herald, I am requesting you validate the information I have provided. There was another subsequent payment of $269,712 in October.

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