Watchdog: Antioch Police still understaffed in spite of two tax increases, not buying excuses

Force back down to 87 sworn officers. Reported numbers don’t match, again.

Watchdog-LogoBy Barbara Zivica

The Antioch Police Department remains understaffed despite passage of Measure C, a one half cent increase in sales in 2013 and Measure O, a business license tax affecting rental properties in 2014. Excuses, excuses.

Back in June, 2013 the department was saying they had 87 full-time, sworn police officers, only 75 who were at full duty capacity although they had money to hire 102 officers. The excuse was that the application process was so rigorous they couldn’t hire fast enough to replace those who retired or quit. I called the excuse absurd because the department has had the same hiring process for years.

In July of 2014 Chief Allan Cantando stated that staffing was currently at 88 sworn officers and “Antioch is the second most populous city in Contra Costa County. Concord, which is the most populous city currently has 148 sworn officers, Richmond, the third most populous city currently has 190 sworn officers.” The same month William Dee, President of APOA, stated that Antioch was recently deemed the 4th Most Dangerous City in California per FBI statistics.

According to the recently released Sales Tax Citizens Oversight Committee Report, “At present Antioch has 87 sworn police officers and one per diem Police Captain This is five more officers than Antioch had in October 2013 based on information given to the committee.”

This statement obviously does not jive with reports given by APD to Council. (see above) Note Chief Cantando’s excuse now is that the problem is not a lack of applicants, it’s a lack of quality applicants who fall out during the hiring process. I query this excuse also, although there may a kernel of truth in that quality candidates just may not want to work in Antioch. I can’t say I blame them.

Although the Bay Area economy is on the rebound, many Antioch residents have either moved to neighboring jurisdictions or have announced their intent to. Reasons include the higher sales tax, abundance of empty commercial spaces, lack of good restaurants and the continuing crime problems, none of which have improved since Wade Harper, who promised the hiring of 22 more police officers, took office. (The Mayor, who was recently served with a recall petition, just announced his intention to run for re-election in 2016.)

As for Chief Cantando, who has been on the force since 1987, I suspect he is at or nearing retirement age. When he does leave, despite many excellent officers on the force, I sincerely hope the City Manager and Council doesn’t promote from within the department, searching instead to hire a strong chief, like former Chief Jim Hyde, someone who has no prior alliances in the City and who can view our continuing crime problems more objectively and effectively.

7 Comments to “Watchdog: Antioch Police still understaffed in spite of two tax increases, not buying excuses”

  1. Karl dietzel says:

    Great article Barbara, and right on the money.
    Now just let’s hear the measure c oversight committee
    What they have to say on Tuesday.

  2. Dale says:

    Just sold our house and we are out of here! So sad we have lived here since 1990 and have loved our house and neighborhood. Just don’t feel safe and no leadership in this town!

  3. Eric A says:

    I don’t see Antioch turning into a ghost city. I saw people leave due to foreclosure, but that’s about it. Antioch is a well populated city.

  4. Karen says:

    We have also decided to leave Antioch. House owner since 1999. After seeing a prostitute selling herself outside of Lowes, shopping carts and trash welcoming us into the neighborhood. Mentally ill people wandering in the middle of the streets talking to themselves, a beggar on every shopping corner or highway entrance, kids smoking dope in front of Antioch High, trash diggers in front of our home where you can not get out of your car because you are afraid. Graffiti, who is CHOP anyway? People memorialize an accident scene with beer bottles and trashy flowers, just is not the family setting I want anymore.

  5. Mary Fletcher says:

    I too Barbara have been wondering why our police department remains understaffed. I am also tired of the excuses. I am ready for results. I haven’t seen any results. I find it hard to believe it has taken two years to get officers through the application process. (Someone is not doing something right for sure). I believe this is a way to hold back on the hiring. I started wondering about our Chief Allan Cantando when he publicly announced that his department was on reaction mode not action mode. All that did was publicize for the criminals to come here and commit crimes. Mayor Wade Harper has made no improvements whatsoever as he promised, in fact our city has fallen deeper into the hole since he took office. Another example of leadership gone bad. What happened to the promised officers by him???? That is why the desperate need to Recall the Mayor should be a high priority for our citizens. Our city can not survive him being in office for the remainder of his current term, much less him having the guts to run again. Good leadership will lead to other departments been more accountable. One can clearly see we currently have a Mayor with no experience or ideas on reviving our city that is plagued with crime and violence. His only solution is to build up a marina with condos and add more population to a city that cannot take care of the citizens it currently has. (Police are so understaffed now, how will adding more for them to patrol help?). Work on the city that exists now. RECALL MAYOR WADE HARPER.

  6. Tim says:

    I’ll be interested to see how the construction of another 2,800 houses, currently being planned for southeast Antioch on both sides of Kaiser hospital, effects crime in this city.

  7. Julio says:

    Keep in mind Mr Harper has no original thoughts. He just does or doesn’t do what Mr. Duran tells him.

    A recall won’t happen kids so don’t plan on that helping. The election is a year and a half away and about 8 useless people are planning on running already. Useless, same, old, people.

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