Antioch Councilwoman Torres-Walker calls for hiring 4 more police officers for Sycamore corridor

City’s highest crime area; would reverse recent two-year budget vote that includes no additional officers; also calls for removal of officer from community detail

“You have individuals threatening to take the law into their own hands if we, as a city, don’t do something, because they’re at the end of their ropes.”

“This is, like, a super tough decision.”

“they know more police isn’t the answer. But we gotta think about the short-term solutions while we dive into the long-term solutions. Our people need relief, right now.”

“this is what the community is asking for, proactive policing in their community and I, as a leader, have to support that.” – Councilwoman Torres-Walker

Screenshot of Antioch District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker’s video posted on her official Facebook page on Saturday, July 17, 2021. It has since been removed.

By Allen Payton

In a major reversal from her votes and previous statements, Antioch District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker made a surprise announcement on Saturday, July 17, 2021 that she’s asking the mayor to place on the next council meeting agenda the hiring of four additional police officers and to focus them on the Sycamore corridor, which has long been the neighborhood with the greatest crime problems in the city. (See Part 1 and Part 2 of video)

In a 17-minute live video posted on her official Facebook page, entitled “Leadership is not easy”, (which has since been removed) Torres-Walker said she had been meeting with business owners in the small shopping center at the corner of Sycamore Drive and L Street, and that they’re struggling to stay open “because of the activity in the area.” She also said that the Quikstop “is pulling out” and that the corporation has given the local franchisee the opportunity to buy them out and become an independent.

She said she’s sent emails to the mayor, police chief, city manager and city attorney “to see what can we do to really look closely at the Sycamore corridor.”

“For a very long time, this particular community has been overlooked,” Torres-Walker said.

“I absolutely believe in police accountability, transparency and reform and on the other hand I also believe in healthy communities and keeping communities safe, and something is just not adding up in that particular community,” she stated. “This is where the hard decisions need to be made and I think that the city council, myself included, needs to have a real conversation about what do we do on the Sycamore corridor…to make that community safe.”

“Some of the biggest challenges are trying to figure this all out and in all reality…there’s no way to get around the fact that we need more patrol in that area,” Torres-Walker shared. “I have no agenda, here. I just want to help people. And right now, people are saying we need help. We don’t want to keep paying these high rents and we can’t even come outside of our house. Our kids can’t even play outside. We can’t go to the store.”

Just last month, she and the council majority, with only District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock voting no, approved a two-year budget that shows increases in the General Fund of over $13 million, and included the creation of 17 new positions, but no additional police officers. In addition, Torres-Walker, along with Mayor Lamar Thorpe and Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson, has twice voted down approving new, high-tech tasers for the department. (See related article here)

In her video, Torres-Walker, wearing a shirt with the words “NOT TODAY SATAN” across the front, struggled to share her recognition of the need for more police. She also repeated a previous claim that “police don’t prevent crime. They show up after a crime or harm was already committed.”

Yet, she spoke of bringing back the program initiated by the city council in the late 1990’s of community policing in the Sycamore corridor, in which officers walked the beat and had regular interaction with residents. As a result, from 1995 to 1998 serious crime in that part of Antioch was reduced by 80%.

“I feel so bad for this community and I think we really need to look at increasing APD by four additional officers,” Torres-Walker continued. “The reason why I’m saying this because there used to be a focus in this community and it was called proactive policing and that went away a long time ago.”

“But if we’re really going to commit to this community, we have to do what’s best for Antioch, and what’s best for Antioch residents,” Torres-Walker stated. “And I cannot ignore the voices of business owners, homeowners and community members who want their community to be safe on Sycamore.”

“And we need to do pro-active policing in the City of Antioch,” she continued. “And so, right now, today, I am asking the Mayor of Antioch to bring to the agenda, a discussion on increasing the Antioch Police Department by four additional officers, so we can do some…proactive community policing in the Sycamore corridor, and get business owners, residents and homeowners, some relief and the opportunity to live safe in their community.”

“It’s not that easy,” Torres-Walker said with a laugh. “It’s not that easy, folks. Like, the reality is, is I believe in transparency, I believe in accountability, I believe in quality policing services. And until we can get to a point in society where we, you know, no longer need these systems, right now, we have people in the Sycamore corridor…who are saying, ‘we don’t know what to do. We need some help.’”

“This is, like, a super tough decision,” she stated. “I spent some time talking to some officers from APD, today when I was out in the Sycamore community, and I just, I can’t imagine, I don’t even live there, and I can’t imagine what this community is going through on a daily. And just by talking to business owners, we have to do something.”

“You have individuals threatening to take the law into their own hands if we, as a city, don’t do something, because they’re at the end of their ropes,” Torres-Walker shared.

“Leadership is complicated, folks,” she added. “But, right now, I’m saying, I’m willing to support four additional positions to the police department to do proactive policing in the Sycamore corridor. I hope that my colleagues on the city council hears this plea. I hope that folks in the community understand.”

“I hope people still believe in me and people still trust me,” Torres-Walker implored. “But the reality is, is that…poor communities, communities of color, Black communities are complex. And we can’t let personal agendas get in the way and I learned that, today,”

“I actually have been spending a lot of time in the Sycamore community over the last two days and I learned, agendas aside, this community needs help,” she continued. “And they’re asking for help, they’re crying out for help, and they want support. And they know more police isn’t the answer. But we gotta think about the short-term solutions while we dive into the long-term solutions. Our people need relief, right now.”

“So, there it is folks. Here, right now, before you all and the world, saying that we need to help residents. Residents need relief, right now,” Torres-Walker said. “And no, I don’t believe that policing is the, you know, the sum of what public safety is about. But right now, this is what the community is asking for, proactive policing in their community and I, as a leader, have to support that.”

“So, again, if you want to reach out to me you can call me at (925) 206-2340 or you can email me at twalker@antiochca.gov,” she shared. “I hope this message reaches the community, the Sycamore community. My heart is with you. My thoughts are with you. To the business owners, we want you to be profitable, we want you to be there to provide a service for the community, as well as take care of you and your community.”

Apologizes to Sycamore community

“And even though I just got here, I want to extend an apologize to everyone in that community for the decades of mistreatment, lack of resources, and just no attention,” Torres-Walker concluded. “Thank you everyone for hearing me out, today. I will be emailing the chief on Monday, as well as the mayor to get this on the council agenda, as soon as possible.”

Supports Removing Officer from Community Detail

She then spoke about a petition to have Officer “Tom Linderman removed from the community policing detail over the homeless, you know our unhoused folks in the community,” and offered her support.

“I think that’s also something we need to consider as a city,” Torres-Walker said. “Maybe some things people aren’t meant to be doing. This petition is not asking for him to be fired. This petition is asking for him to be moved to a new division. At this point, right now, from what I hear from unhoused folks and community members who serve the unhoused folks, is probably the best deal.”

“The reality is, is some people just aren’t good at community engagement,” she continued. “And that’s fine. Because we can use their talents in other places.”

“I will also be raising this up at the next council meeting on the 27th of this month and to the police chief when he gets back from vacation on Monday,” Torres-Walker concluded.

“I’m willing to hear you all out. Let me know,” she said, reiterating her support for four more officers. “If you think this is a step in the wrong direction, let me know. But people are asking for this and I got to do my best.”

Video Removed

As of 2:45 p.m. on Saturday, the video had been removed from here council Facebook page. An attempt to reach Torres-Walker asking her why was unsuccessful prior to publication. An effort to reach Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe asking if he was aware of her proposal and if he will place it on the next council meeting agenda was also unsuccessful.

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

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