Downtown “donuts”, speeding cycles rile Rivertown residents

Cars can be seen doing donuts in the Antioch boat launch parking lot and at W. 2nd and L Streets next to the Antioch Police station in front of officers late nights in July, 2023. Screenshots from videos by a resident who chose to remain anonymous.

“It’s happening at 11 p.m., 1 a.m., 3 a.m. No one sleeps in downtown anymore.” – Joy Motts, former Councilwoman and Rivertown resident

Says Torres-Walker ignoring complaints although pledged to work with Motts on downtown issues; Torres-Walker claims she has been in contact with chief and Rivertown residents

Barbanica setting up meeting with chief, proposes hiring retired cops to supplement APD

By Allen D. Payton

Rivertown residents are fed up with the donut-spinning cars in downtown Antioch intersections and at the boat launch parking lot at the end of L Street near the police station, almost every night. They want something done about it and are considering taking things into their own hands. (See videos here and here)

Former Councilwoman Joy Motts said their complaints have fallen on deaf ears as Mayor Pro Tem Tamisha Torres-Walker in whose District 1 the illegal activities are occurring because “she never responds”. So, Motts reached out to District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica who is working to set up a meeting with residents and APD.

“This goes on every night, sometimes for hours… 11pm, 1am, 3am. No one sleeps in downtown anymore. It’s waking people up. And it happens during the day,” Motts said on Wednesday, July 26, 2023. “When they take off, they run through every stop sign. They are going to kill somebody, maybe one of my family or my neighbors.  We are at our wits end.”

“Then yesterday, three motorcycles raced down W. 2nd Street by the (old lumber company) lot going 80,” she continued. “They’re in our neighborhoods during the day. Almost every intersection is covered with tire marks. It’s just lawlessness.”

“Because we’re a grid they just stream though the intersections running stop signs,” Motts stated. “Two of my daughter’s friends have been hit in their cars by people running stop signs. They got broadsided.”
“They come down here nightly and it’s just terrorizing the whole downtown neighborhood,” she shared. “They spin around in the boat launch parking lot, and we can hear them blocks away. We’ve called the police and they say we’ll let the others on patrol know about it.”

Multiple tire marks can be seen in the boat launch parking lot at the end of L Street and in the intersection of W. 2nd & L Street next to the Antioch Police station on Wednesday, July 26, 2023. Photos by Allen D. Payton

Motts Suggests Closing Access to Marina Area Parking Lots at Night

“I think they need to shut down the Marina and Smith’s Landing and boat launch parking lots at night. Ultimately, it’s a quality-of-life issue.

Asked if she’d contacted Torres-Walker who represents the area, Motts said, “she never responds to emails from any of us down here.”

“People are talking about hiring an attorney. People are talking about taking matters into their own hands which is a no-win situation and bad things could happen,” the former councilwoman shared. “They do this because they know they can with the reduced police force and there’s little to no enforcement.”

She believes the reduced police staffing level is a major contributor to the problem with currently 99 sworn officers on the force. That’s due to 16 vacancies of the 115 sworn approved in the budget. Plus, there are still 35 officers on paid leave due to the two investigations, including the one by the FBI and DA that began last year, and this year’s with the racist text scandal.

Motts said she contacted Barbanica who has suggested hiring retired police officers and a private security company.

“I’ve requested a meeting with the chief. Barbanica is working to get a meeting together to find solutions,” she added. “We need help.”

“My family has been here for over 100 years. and this is the first time we’re asking, ‘can we stay here?’” Motts exclaimed. “We’re afraid. When we slow down at a stop sign, we’re scared someone is going to fly through. We also hear gunfire a lot.”

“We pay taxes. We love our community. We love our downtown. We do events through Celebrate Antioch. We’re trying to improve things. But downtown, right now, is chaos,” she added.

Barbanica Proposes Hiring Retired Cops

At the end of the city council meeting on Tuesday, July 25, 2023 (see 4:32:45 mark of video), Barbanica proposed hiring retired cops to supplement Antioch’s police force.

Regarding “hiring of police personnel. We obviously have a shortage of police personnel, right now. In my opinion there are options,” he said. “It’s going to take years to get back up to staffing levels. He asked to have “a discussion…about hiring retired police officers that left in good standing. They can come in as non-sworn personnel. It’s much cheaper. There are no benefits involved. Essentially, they’re part-time employees. They can pick up the slack in investigations…in cold calls that come in, to free up the officers that are working the street for hot details.”

The department added two officers to the force in the past six months. Filling the vacancies at that rate will take four years. Plus, depending on how many officers are terminated following conclusion of the investigations, it will be more years to get to the 115 sworn officer positions.

When reached for comment Barbanica confirmed he’s been in contact with Police Chief Steve Ford to set up a meeting with Rivertown residents to discuss and find solutions to the challenges they’re facing.

Torres-Walker Pledged to Work With Motts on Downtown Issues

After last fall’s election Torres-Walker who committed to Motts to work with her to help the Rivertown area. As previously reported, following the first-hand recount of the ballots, Torres-Walker said to Motts, “I don’t think I can do this without you. You love Antioch and I want to partner with you. I don’t know what people downtown want. You do. I want you to tell me, advise me and I want to work with you.”

The City’s mayor pro tem was asked by voicemail and email Friday evening and Saturday morning if what Motts said was true, that Torres-Walker hasn’t responded to emails from Motts and other Rivertown residents about the issues affecting them. She was also asked if she had contacted any of the residents to meet with them and the police department to address their concerns.

In response Torres-Walker wrote Saturday morning, “I have been in communication with the chief and a handful of residents who live in and near the housing development on 4th Street near the police department regarding these kind of issues and gun violence.”

the attachments to this post:

Boat launch parking lot & 2nd & L Sts 072623 ADP

Sideshow Antioch boat ramp parking lot & 2nd & L Sts 0723

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