Antioch interim city manager welcomes new interim police chief to lead depleted force

New Antioch Interim Chief of Police Dr. Steve Ford introduced by Mayor Lamar Thorpe Wednesday morning, Feb. 23, 2022. Herald file photo.

SFPD Commander Steve Ford. Source: SFPD

By Allen D. Payton

In his City Manager’s Bi-Monthly Update on Tuesday, April 26, Antioch Interim City Manager welcomed new Interim Police Chief Dr. Steve Ford whose hiring was announced by Mayor Lamar Thorpe during a press conference on February 23 without the knowledge of at least three other council members. (See related article)

Ford reportedly began his new position yesterday, Monday, April 25 and former Interim Police Chief Tony Morefield, who has held the position since former Chief Tammany Brooks’ retirement last fall, returned to his position as a Captain on the police force. Neither Thorpe nor Johnson ever answered the question why the change in interim police chiefs was necessary.

Ford had to complete his background check before his hiring could be finalized, which was expected to be done by Easter. Johnson inadvertently fired Morefield in an email to him and others, including all five council members and Ford, the day after Thorpe’s announcement. That was rescinded a short while later. (See related article)

Johnson’s message reads as follows:


‘Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.’ Publilius Syrus

As a former police officer, who honorably served 30 years in law enforcement and is currently serving the City of Antioch as its Interim City Manager, there is no greater honor and privilege than having both the benefit and opportunity of appointing a new Chief of Police. The Chief of Police is an iconic city figure who must be beyond reproach and possess impeccable personal character. With great humility, I would like to introduce Dr. Steve A. Ford as the City of Antioch’s newly appointed Interim Chief of Police. A very special thank you to Captain Tony Morefield who stepped in as Interim Chief of Police since October 2021.

Dr. Steven A. Ford, Ed.D, M.S., B.S., who recently retired from the San Francisco Police Department as a Commander, grew up in one of San Francisco’s crime-ridden and gang-infested communities, notoriously known at the time as the Ingleside-Oceanview district. His law enforcement background spans thirty-one-plus years with the San Francisco Police Department and has included assignments in Operations, Investigations, Administration, Special Operations-Homeland Security, and Professional Standards-Strategic Management Bureaus. Dr. Ford currently serves as faculty at San Francisco City College and San Francisco State University, where he instructs administration of justice courses and course work in the MPA program.

Dr. Ford holds an Associate of Sciences Degree from San Francisco City College, a Bachelor of Science Degree from San Francisco State University, a Master of Science Degree from California State University-Long Beach, and a Doctoral Degree in Educational Leadership from Saint Mary’s College-California. Chief Ford has attended the Sherman Block Supervisory Leadership Institute, Robert Presley Institute of Criminal Investigations, California POST Command College, California Police Chiefs Executive Leadership Institute at Drucker-Claremont Graduate University, POST Executive Development, San Francisco Leadership S.F. Chamber of Commerce, and San Francisco Police Department Leadership Development Institute.

Dr. Ford considers his leadership and professional philosophy to be that of a contemporary leader who values the profession’s history, is focused on current challenges, and has a vision for the future of policing. Please join Mayor Lamar Thorpe, the entire City Council, and me in welcoming our new Antioch Police Department Interim Chief of Police, Dr. Steven A. Ford, to our beautiful city, where Opportunity Lives.”

Challenges Ford Will Face

Ford steps in at a time the Antioch Police force is down 14 sworn officers to 101 from the 115 budgeted, and down 24 active sworn officers with five of them on paid leave pending the investigation by the Contra Costa DA’s Office and FBI. In addition, he will face an attrition problem that, according to Antioch Police Officers Association President Steve Aiello based on exit interviews of officers leaving the department, is due to the current council majority, specifically the mayor and District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker, and their attitudes toward and actions affecting the police department.

Ford and Thorpe recently proposed adding four more sworn officers to the current over hire figure of six, and a signing bonus for lateral and new academy graduates, including a housing allocation. Both items are on tonight’s (Tuesday’s) council meeting agenda for discussion. (See related article)

In addition, Ford begins his tenure in his new position at a time neither he nor any of the City’s other department heads are allowed to speak to council members or the media, by Johnson’s directive, without the interim city manager’s approval, presence or the presence of Johnson’s representative.

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