Suspects arrested for multiple Antioch restaurant burglaries but police department not allowed to announce it

Burglary suspects Casey Beck and Alyssa Castro are placed in the backs of Antioch Police vehicles.

APOA announces it, claims mayor, City ‘s PIO muzzling Chief Ford, APD’s PIO; takes more swipes at Thorpe

Claims patrol staff down to 30 officers

“There is NO reason whatsoever to hold onto this information, unless it is the mayor and him wanting to do more press conferences in an attempt to take credit for the good work our officers are doing.” – Councilwoman Ogorchock

By Allen D. Payton

A rash of burglaries in Antioch, this week has led to the arrest of at two suspect.s But the Antioch Police Department is not being allowed to announce it, according to the Antioch Police Officers Association (APOA). Instead, they announced it and claim Mayor Lamar Thorpe and City Manager Con Johnson want the announcement to go through the city’s contracted public information officer, Rolando Bonilla, instead of APD’s PIO, Ashley Crandell, so Thorpe can hold a press conference about it.

Stolen items in sacks, a box of rocks believed to be used to break the restaurant windows, cash seized from the suspects and their vehicle.

The suspects arrested are 34-year-old Casey Beck and Alyssa Castro. According to, he is a white male and was booked into county jail on Feb. 16 at 12:00 AM. According to Beck is an Antioch resident and was born on August 18, 1988. According to she is 21 years old and was also booked into county jail at 12:00 AM on Friday. According to her Facebook page, Castro lives in Antioch and attended Alhambra High and Vicente Martinez High in Martinez.

Source: APOA Facebook page.

APOA Statement

In a statement issued Friday morning, Sgt. Rick Hoffman, president of the APOA wrote:

“People of Antioch,

The APOA felt it was important to address several issues that our officers have been been dealing with and that you, those who live in Antioch, have likely felt the ramifications of. The issue is twofold and has been affecting our department for some time. These issues are staffing and messaging from our department.

The APD has been hemorrhaging officers for the better part of the last 12 months. Through injuries, attrition, the FBI investigation into a group of our officers, and a host of other issues, the APD’s patrol staff is currently staffed at 30 patrol officers. For perspective, the APD’s patrol staff had 65 officers available to work patrol in late 2020.

The reason we are addressing this now is because of the constant misrepresentations we see about our staffing levels and recruitment efforts being put forth by Mayor Thorpe. It cannot be said with enough emphasis that one of the major driving forces causing officers to leave our agency is the dangerous and irresponsible rhetoric coming from the Mayor. The Mayor’s constant negative comments towards our officers since the time of Chief Brooks has caused a large amount of officers to leave our agency because they do not feel the support from our city’s leadership. Just as important, his behavior and rhetoric has also prevented current officers from other agencies from coming to work for our agency. Anecdotally, we have been told by lateral prospects all over the Bay Area that despite the signing bonus that the Mayor has offered, they will not work in Antioch because of the Mayor’s rhetoric against the police department. We have all heard the Mayor blame our staffing crisis on a national trend of an exodus from policing. Although it is true that staffing levels at police departments around the country are down, it is also true that APD’s staffing has hit critically low levels unseen by other departments in the area. Our neighboring agencies do not have the staffing crisis that we have and the APOA attributes much of that to the Mayor’s ongoing rhetoric.

Now, the APD’s recruiting team has been doing an excellent job hiring a good amount of new applicants and they are being put through the police academy as we speak. We know that help to our staffing levels are soon on the horizon and we are confident that the APD’s staffing levels will be back to where they were before. Chief Ford has also been implementing several positive changes and improvements to our training and procedures that will continue to improve our department over the long term. But to be clear, these positive improvements are happening despite the Mayor’s negative comments about our officers and not because of any efforts or programs he has been responsible for. No signing bonus can make up for the damage he’s done to our department but the officers represented by the APOA are resilient and will overcome yet this latest obstacle to accomplishing the mission of keeping the Antioch community safe.

To speak to the issues of keeping the community safe, most of you have likely heard about the burglaries which occurred recently at Antioch businesses and the subsequent apology which was released by APD administration regarding APD’s response. You were told in that apology that there would be positive updates to be released. Those positive updates to this point have not been released and the APOA has been informed that they will not be released because the Mayor has ordered APD’s leadership not to to release any further information regarding this incident. So we, as an APOA, will tell you that the person responsible has been arrested by alert and hard working APD patrol officers. Officers who responded to the original burglary were able to identify the responsible vehicle the night of the burglary and located the vehicle on February 16. They identified the driver as 34 year old Casey Beck and determined that he was responsible for multiple burglaries in the recent past. Beck was arrested and booked at the Martinez Detention Facility.

This update was prevented from reaching you because the Mayor ordered APD leadership from releasing it. We have been informed that this message has reached our department leadership through Chief Strategic Officer Rolando Bonilla. We have been told that Mr. Bonilla ordered the department’s Public Information Officer, Ashley Crandell, from releasing any further information regarding this incident. This is an ongoing pattern that our department has experienced for years. Mayor Thorpe prevented Chief Brooks, interim Chief Morefield and now Chief Ford from updating the public with incidents occurring in the city. The APOA believes he has done this because he does not want our officers to be highlighted positively but rather wants an opportunity to craft the message himself to take the credit for the work our officers do. The APOA will not stand idly by and allow this to happen. We believe that it is important for the citizens of Antioch to know what is occurring with the city. The APOA does not answer to Mayor Thorpe and he will not silence our message. It seems the Mayor routinely forgets that Antioch is a General Law city which means we are governed by a city council of five and we have a “city manager” form of government. Despite this, the Mayor routinely tries to operate as though we are a Charter city with a “strong mayor” form of government. His actions are inappropriate on many levels.

We can assure the people of Antioch that our officers will continue to work diligently to keep you safe and the message of their work will reach you so that you are aware of what is occurring in the city.”

Questions for Thorpe, Johnson, Bonilla, Councilmembers

The following questions were sent to Thorpe, City Manager Con Johnson, Bonilla, Chief Ford, Crandell and the APOA, and copied to the other four city council members, City Attorney Thomas L. Smith and Assistant City Manager Rosanna Bayon Moore Friday morning. They were given until noon, Friday to respond for their answers and comments to be included in this report.

Is the information provided by the APOA correct? Most importantly, are there currently only 30 patrol officers on the force?

Did Rolanod order Ashley to not release information to the media about the arrest of the suspect in the various burglaries in Antioch? If so, what authority does he have to tell any staff member of any city department what to do? Or did the order come from you, Con? And was it made to Chief Ford to give to Officer Crandell?

If so, Con did Lamar direct you to do that? If so, why are you taking direction from just one of the five council members when your job is to do what a council majority directs you to do?

Lamar, did you give that direction to both Con and Rolando so you can hold a press conference about the arrest? If so, do you recognize that you don’t have the authority to direct the city manager, city PIO, city attorney or any city staff member what to do and it takes the vote of three council members to direct the city manager or city attorney – and only them since they are the only two city staff members who are hired by and answer to the council?

Council members, do you agree that Con and Thomas are only to act upon the direction of a majority vote by the council and they are not to take direction from just the mayor or any other one or two council members?

When will the city’s PIO fulfill the role for which he is contracted and provide information to the public and not suppress, or control it and prevent all media that covers Antioch from being included in city press releases or city-related press conference announcements?

Did a majority of council members ever vote to direct the city’s PIO or the city manager to direct him to exclude certain media from press releases and press conference announcements? (As an FYI, the last time the Herald received a press release or press conference announcement from Bonilla was on Feb. 14, 2022).

Do any of you have any other comments about this matter?”

Only Two Councilmembers Respond

“100% agree,” District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica responded to the question about the city manager and city attorney only acting upon direction of a majority vote of council members.

Asked if that had ever come up for a vote he responded. “No. I would never vote for that and I don’t recall that ever coming up. Nor would I ever exclude media especially media that are critical of the mayor. If that’s the motive, then that’s wrong. It’s contrary to our system.”

“The press should have access because the press reporting is what keeps government honest,” Barbanica added. “You can’t pick and choose based on who’s going to be friendly to you.”

“I’m very disappointed to learn last night and this morning that the Antioch Police Department is being silenced as to what information they can release to the public. Specifically, and most recently, the arrest of the suspect in this week’s restaurant burglaries.”

Barbanica also posted comments and a video on his official Facebook page sharing additional concerns about the matter and thanking Chief Ford and APD for hosting last night’s Community Forum. The District 2 councilman wrote, “30 OFFICERS WORKING PATROL! (That is NOT at a time…this is TOTAL…divide that by a 24/7 operation and a city of 115,000)

Thank you Chief Ford and the recruiting team for doing everything you can to hire more officers.

Most of all, thank you to the men and women of APD for continuing to work through these difficult times and serve the members of this community.

APD apparently again ordered to withhold press information.”

Ogorchock responded to the questions, as well. In response to the first question about the validity of what the APOA shared she wrote, “If this came from the APOA, they would know and I therefore believe it is true.”

Regarding only 30 patrol officers on the force Ogorchorck responded, “Those are the numbers I have also been given.”

Regarding Bonilla ordering Crandell to not release information to the media about the arrest of the suspect, the District 3 councilwoman wrote, “I understood it was the CM Johnson that had reached out to the Chief and told him he was not to release the suspects information. But I have heard that Rolando has directed the PIO Crandell from APD that she needs to go through him.”

Rolando has NO authority whatsoever to direct staff, period!” she added.

In response to the questions to Johnson if Thorpe directed you to do tell APD not to release the information about the suspect and if so, why is he taking direction from just one of the five council members Ogorchock wrote, “Good question, we are NOT a charter city and we do not have a stand-alone mayor.  All direction needs to be given by the body of the council.

On the question if she agrees that Johnson and Smith are only to act upon the direction of a majority vote by the council and they are not to take direction from just the mayor or any other one or two council members, she wrote, “We as council have two employees, the CM & CA, they are to only take direction from the majority of council.

Regarding the PIO fulfilling his role to provide information to the public Ogorchock responded, “We should not be suppressing any media outlets, all should be treated fairly and equally no matter to how one feels about the media and how they share the information.”

About the council voting to direct the city’s PIO or the city manager to direct him to exclude certain media from press releases and press conference announcements, she wrote, “Never on my part. As a matter of fact, I believe in what I wrote above, all should be given the same opportunities. It is not up to the PIO Bonilla to pick and choose which outlets to notify of the goings on in the city.  He should be including all!”

Ogorchock also shared the following comments. 

“In this city we have the most dedicated men and women on our police force, they take pride in this city in which they work and some live,” she wrote. “Their quality of life is suffering due to the lack of officers we currently have as they are being asked to take on extra responsibilities, work several extra hours per shift/week to make sure our residents are safe. Our response times are being impacted by such low numbers of officers, as evident in the recent burglaries, where other priority calls were responded to sooner.

“It is my understanding that City Manager Johnson reached out to Chief Ford and instructed him to NOT release the information regarding the suspects being arrested for the many burglaries that took place,” Ogorchock continued. “APD has a public information officer and her name is Officer Crandell. She through Chief Ford should be releasing information as it becomes available as quickly as possible for transparency.  That is what this legislative body has instructed on multiple occasions with previous Chief Brooks, Interim Chief Morefield and now with Chief Ford. There is NO reason whatsoever to hold onto this information, unless it is the mayor and him wanting to do more press conferences in an attempt to take credit for the good work our officers are doing.”

No other council or staff members responded to the questions prior to publication time.

the attachments to this post:

Stolen items rocks cash suspects’ vehicle

Burglary suspects Casey Beck & Alyssa Castro

APOA statement graphic 021723

No Comments so far.

Leave a Reply