Council candidate says Antioch councilman’s police reform efforts grandstanding for political gain

Claims Thorpe knew Antioch Police already implementing five of eight reforms before releasing his proposal

Mike Barbanica.

In a press release on Monday evening, Antioch City Council candidate Mike Barbanica slammed Antioch Council Member Lamar Thorpe, who is up for re-election in November, for his proposal to call for an ad hoc committee to deal with what he labels so-called reforms at the Antioch Police Department”. Thorpe listed eight reforms endorsed by the national 8 Can’t Wait Campaign and four actions the council can take promoted by the Obama Foundation on its website. (See related article)

“Antioch residents want change – real change – so we can honestly address racism in our community,” said Barbanica, candidate for city council in District 2. “We don’t need another Antioch bureaucracy led by politicians who claim to know what’s best for our community.”

Barbanica stated that the Antioch Police Department has already implemented five of the eight reforms advocated by 8 Can’t Wait and is in the process of reviewing the other three for possible implementation.

He added that Thorpe was advised of this information by the APD before he sent out his press release.

“Shame on Mr. Thorpe for grandstanding on this issue for his own political gain,” Barbanica said. “What we need is more ongoing thoughtful communication between our police officers, our community, Antioch’s faith leaders and business owners – not the establishment of some shill of a committee that exists for the purpose of promoting a politician’s own political agenda.”

Barbanica, a longtime Antioch resident, local business owner and retired police lieutenant from the neighboring City of Pittsburg, said he is proud of the hard work and dedication of Antioch’s police officers, noting that, under Police Chief Tammany Brooks, Antioch PD has been responsive to the needs of our community.

“Can we do better? We can always do better and we need to come together, as a community, to better understand the needs of our African American and Latino residents, he said. “But establishing a committee of politicians who will use it as a pedestal to pontificate about the causes of racism is not the answer.

Barbanica added that George Floyd’s murder, and the protests that have followed, have awakened all of us to the need for social justice reform that can only begin in earnest by us initiating honest dialogue, by our listening and communicating with one another, so we can re-create a society that is fair and just for all persons who live here.

6/9/20 UPDATE:  When reached for comment, Councilman Thorpe said “what I knew was that I asked the chief to get clarity on this, and he sent me an email response and he said ‘in spirit we do some of these. We have officially two on the books so far. But I can look into and we can do these things in spirit.’”

“He had some concerns about other ones,” he continued. “What I did was call on the chief to adopt all of them. The issue is not whether not I knew. The fact of the matter is they’re not written in our policies. There’s a difference between researching and considering adopting them.”

“I’m calling for the remaining six to be implemented,” Thorpe stated. “Let’s make it about policy. Five of them doesn’t complete the eight. I’m saying all of them.”

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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