New interim Antioch police chief given grand oath of office ceremony

New Antioch Interim Police Chief Steve Ford speaks during his oath of office ceremony as Mayor Lamar Thorpe, City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith and Interim City Manager Con Johnson (front row), as well as other area police chiefs, Antioch council members and police leaders, District Attorney Diana Becton and other officials look on, on Wed., April 27, 2022. Photos by Allen D. Payton

Attended by other area police chiefs and officers, officials and Ford’s family and friends; nothing similar done for previous interim police chief Morefield; Thorpe lauds four African-American men as city leaders, says hiring process for permanent chief has begun

By Allen D. Payton

New Antioch Interim Police Chief Dr. Steve Ford was given his ceremonial oath of office Wednesday afternoon in front of a crowd of area police chiefs and officers, city officials, the D.A., Antioch residents, and his family and friends. It was held at 1:00 p.m. in the outdoor amphitheater of the Antioch Community Center at Prewett Family Park. Ford had already started in his new position on Monday, he shared.

City Clerk Ellie Householder who served as Mistress of Ceremonies, introduced Mayor Lamar Thorpe who offered his remarks, including a racially focused history of the city.

An audience of Ford’s family, friends, fellow SFPD and APD officers, Antioch city staff and residents attended his oath of office ceremony.

Thorpe’s Remarks 

Mayor Thorpe speaks during the ceremony. Video screenshot.

During Thorpe’s remarks, he spoke of this year’s Sesquicentennial celebrating the 150th anniversary of the City’s incorporation in 1872 and the community’s early days.

“While global commerce was welcome, it is also true that discrimination in the form of sundown ordinances, racial housing covenants, redlining and other forms of systemic oppression were also present in our city. Many of these effects of which are still felt, today,” Thorpe stated. “Antioch has grown and evolved and is one of the fastest growing cities in the San Francisco Bay Area and continues to draw people from different parts of the world, making it one of the most racially and economically diverse cities in the Bay.” (See video of Thorpe’s complete remarks)

“Today, our city is proud that the majority of our elected officials, unlike in 1872, happen to be women,” he continued. “From our illustrious City Clerk Ellie Householder to our woman majority city council.”

“We’re also proud of the fact that we are a majority African-American city council,” Thorpe stated. “Two African-Americans which also happen to be Mexican. So, it’s not Tamisha Walker, it’s Tamisha Torres-Walker. My first language happens to be Spanish, not English.”

“I want to emphasize that we’ve never been here as a city, before, nor has any city in California, where the mayor, the city manager, the city attorney and now, our chief of police happen to be African-American men, defying every stereotype out there, about us,” he said.

Thorpe then spoke about police reform measures passed by the council, “that put our department on the path towards more accountability and transparency, more importantly, inclusion and opportunity.”

“Dr. Ford,” Thorpe started to say, but was interrupted by someone’s phone that stated, “I’m not sure I understand.”

In response, the mayor quipped, “I do. Transparency, body cameras, all that good stuff” to laughter from the audience.

“Dr. Ford,” he repeated and continued with his thought, “is a critical piece to helping us continue to get there.”

Thorpe then spoke of Ford’s experience with the S.F.P.D.

“Today, marks a new day for the Antioch Police Department and for our city,” Thorpe said. “Chief Ford is Mr. Police Reform and I look forward to his leadership getting us past our small divisions and towards a collective and shared vision for our future as a city.”

“So, congratulations, Chief Ford for joining us in the City of Antioch,” the major concluded.

Interim City Manager Con Johnson then spoke briefly and thanked former interim police chief Tony Morefield, who has returned to his position as one of two captains on the Antioch police force.

Ford’s wife, Julia, a 26-year veteran of the San Francisco Police Department joined her husband at the podium and pinned him with his chief’s badge. He then shared his own remarks, similar to those he made when he was announced by Thorpe on Feb. 23. (See related article)

Ford with his wife, Julia (center), family members, Johnson, other police chiefs and officers, and friends, following the oath of office ceremony.

Ford’s Remarks 

A program for the ceremony was provided to those who attended.

Ford said he wants “to be a catalyst for positive change. To be clear, I do not endorse concept of defunding policing services. However, I do embrace the approach to policing that best serves our entire community. Restoring and enhancing community trust is critical, right now, more than ever.” (See video of Ford’s remarks)

“No one is successful, alone. Put it another way, it takes a village,”

He thanked his mother who was in attendance, and his wife and four children who he said, “you’ve been my motivating force to be role model, someone you can look up to and be successful.”

“To Mayor Thorpe, thank you, sir for having the confidence in me to lead this organization. I certainly appreciate this tremendous opportunity,” Ford continued. “To our city council members, City Manager Johnson, thank you, as well for trusting me to lead this organization. It’s truly an honor I don’t take lightly.”

“To the dedicated men and women of this organization that being the Antioch Police Department, both sworn and professional staff, you have my full commitment to provide you what you need to stay safe, be well trained and feel fully supported,” he stated.

“To the city of Antioch, please understand this department is your partner in keeping this community safe, through a relationship built on mutual trust, credibility and transparency,” Ford added. “I look forward to bringing my extensive experience as a practitioner, as an academic and a researcher, to make these goals and aspirations a reality for this organization and our community as a whole.”

“I sincerely thank all of you for your presence, here, today. God bless,” he concluded.

Following Ford’s remarks, guests were invited to remain and enjoy some cake.

Why No Similar Ceremony for Morefield? Thorpe Says City “Caught Off Guard” by Brooks’ Departure Although Announced Six Weeks Prior, Process for Permanent Chief Begun

Following the ceremony Thorpe spoke to a few members of the media in attendance. He was asked why a similar ceremony wasn’t provided for Captain Tony Morefield when he became interim police chief, last fall.

“I think the unexpected departure by Chief Brooks may have contributed to that. I think we were all caught off guard,” Thorpe stated. “This one was more planned.”

However, Brooks’ retirement was announced on August 26, 2021, six weeks prior to his departure, in a press release issued by the Boise Police Department and published on this and other local news websites that day. Also, that day, District 2 Councilman and now, Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica said, “I’m very sorry to see him go” during an interview with the Herald. The next day, Torres-Walker offered her congratulations to Brooks on his new position in a post on her official Facebook page with which she posted a photo with him. In addition, on Sept. 9, then-Antioch City Manager Ron Bernal officially announced Brooks’ retirement in a press release. At that time, Thorpe was quoted as saying, “I wish Chief Brooks all the best as he heads to Boise.”

Brooks’ last day as police chief wasn’t until October 9. (See related articles, here and here)

Also, after Wednesday’s ceremony, held nine weeks after Ford’s hiring announcement, Thorpe was asked if there were plans to move him into the permanent position as police chief.

“No. You know that one of our police reform measures is the hiring process,” Thorpe responded.

Asked if the council will start that process, this year or wait until the end of the year, the mayor stated, “no, we’ve started that process.” (See video of Thorpe’s interview)

the attachments to this post:

IPC Ford ceremony program

Thorpe speaks at IPC Ford ceremony 04-27-22

AIPC Ford ceremony Chiefs & Officers 04-27-22

AIPC Ford ceremony audience 4-27-22

AIPC Ford speaks during ceremony 04-27-22

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