Antioch Council approves formation of police reform “committee of whole” council on split vote

Postpones formalizing police notification of council and public of major incidents

By Allen Payton

During the Antioch Council meeting Tuesday night, April 13, the members approved on a 3-2 vote to form a committee of the whole council to handle police complaints. It’s intended to be a temporary measure until a citizens committee is formed to handle the task. In addition, the council formalized the protocol process for the Antioch Police Department to notify the city council

“We have this authority, now,” District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica said. “What would be the difference? We’re sort of reporting back to ourselves. Why a secondary committee?”

“We’re just carving it out…so we’re transparent to the public,” Thorpe said.

“Our oversight powers are going to be very limited,” District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock said, directing her comments to the city attorney.

“You will be limited to an advisory capacity,” City Attorney Thomas Smith responded.

“If that’s the need, then you just call a special meeting,” Ogorchock said to Thorpe.

“We’re going to be more deliberate and transparent about what we’re doing,” Thorpe said.

“Can’t you just put that on the agenda?” Ogorchock asked.

“This is a new body of work we’re doing, here,” Thorpe responded. “We discussed this during the police reform agenda and this is the direction the council wanted to go in.”

“Chief Brooks gives us use of force stats,” Ogorchock pointed out.

“Point of clarification, excuse me if I’m misinterpreting this, setting this up of the five of us is just temporary for passing this off to a citizens committee,” Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson said.

“It was always meant to be temporary,” Thorpe said.

“An independent review body,” Wilson pointed out.

“That is probably the most important part of this,” Thorpe responded.

Wilson then made the motion to create a Standing Committee on Police Reform of the Whole City Council. Tamisha Torres-Walker seconded the motion.

The council voted 3-2 to approve the motion with Barbanica and Ogorchock voting no.

Police Notification of Council, Public Protocol Postponed

The council then took up the formalization of the protocol for the police department to notify the council members of major incidents that occur in the city.

Members of the public spoke, including some members of Angelo Quinto’s family, asking that the council also include timely notification of the public, and within 24 hours following an incident “through a variety of media,” as well as family members and others impacted, of all communications including press conferences.

“I want to say that I’m in support of an official protocol process…but I also want to acknowledge that in the last 60 days that I’ve received more texts and emails from the police chief and staff and want to thank the police chief for that,” District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker said. “I also support the notification of the public…and victims…who are looking for communication from our police department. So, I agree there should be victim notification, as well.”

“This is something police chiefs, even former Police Chief  Allan Cantando, do,” District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock said. “So, I’m not sure why we’re doing this because they are doing it.”

“We’re doing it because they did it wrong,” Thorpe said. “There’s no excuses for not getting information. There’s also frustration from council members that information doesn’t get to us in a timely matter. Some bloggers get information before we do who post on social media. That’s unacceptable. We shouldn’t get information from third parties in our community…when people gather information and use it to attack elected officials, when we do not know.”

“There’s also the concern of informing the public,” he continued. “But I want this to be tight. I will be offering amendments to this.”

Thorpe then offered additional language he wanted included in the resolution.

“One thing we may want to consider, once we have everyone’s feedback, is to bring this back as a consent calendar item,” City Attorney Thomas Smith suggested.

“That’s fine. We can do that,” Thorpe responded. We can add the component of public transparency.”

Smith suggested that the council consider two separate resolutions, and to get the feedback now and bring both back for adoption, later. The mayor concurred and no vote was taken.

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