Archive for the ‘Police & Crime’ Category

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

Tuesday, April 26th, 2022

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 That was rescinded a short while later.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:

“WELCOME CHIEF DR. STEVE A. FORD

‘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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Letters: Antioch resident, pastor says his apartment complex is “gang warzone”, he and family still displaced

Saturday, April 23rd, 2022

Editor:

(Note: Following is a letter to the editor which contains a copy of an article about the matter published by eastcountytoday.net)

A shooting broke out Wednesday morning in an apartment complex in the 3900 block of Delta Fair Blvd. in the City of Antioch that left multiple apartments struck by gunfire and families displaced.

The shooting occurred at approximately 9:15 am in the Delta View Apartments off Delta Fair Blvd and Fair view.

According to preliminary information, at least 3 apartments were struck by gunfire. A gas line was struck causing apartments to fill with gas. A water line was struck causing flooding.

Nothing has been released on the incident by Antioch Police, even after several requests have been made. On Friday, Antioch Public Information Officer Rolando Bonilla responded regarding the incident.

“FYI – no one was hit in this shooting so this is not something we would typically write a press release for.” 

No other information has been released by the City of Antioch even after four requests for information on the incident.

Editor’s note: Attempts at request for info on this incident:

  • Two requests to Media Access Line
  • email sent Wednesday at 2:45 pm
  • email sent Thursday at 10:34 am
  • email sent Friday at 1:46 am

The following was a statement released by Pastor Henry L. Dillihant III MSPH & Family

Date: April 21, 2022

On April 20, 2022 at approximately 8:30 am, several rounds of gunshots was fired. My wife’s sister’s house was hit as well as my house and gas main was struck by automatic rifle fire. I was called from my house to help my sister-in-law who was pinned down by gun fire. Several shooters/gang members took over the complex. While running to help my wife’s sister, passing a hail of bullets, GOD protected us, where we live turned into a war zone. I was able to retrieve them while her house was being shot into. We have had to leave our residence. We have not been back. There is some confusion on what’s going on here. Here is the situation:

  • We are victims of violent crime
  • We are victims of gang violence
  • Our housing situation is not safe
  • Family members have been traumatized and we need help
  • Because of the gas main to our unit being directly hit by gun fire, that unit filled with gas and we had to leave with the clothes on our back.
  • I was able to get some of my medication
  • My sisters-in-law house was riddled with gun fire, her gas main was struck and water pipes hit as well causing flooding and damage to a lot of her property
  • Our children suffered mental and physical damage due to the violence they witnessed and trying to remove them from the situation.
  • We are all trying to cope with this situation mentally, as best we can knowing there are still active gang members and shooters living in this community.
  • The management of this community, both the owners/facilities and parent services company have not reached out or returned telephone calls
  • The management company has however done their best to stop us from receiving help from other agency’s and denying help to our families to be placed in a safer situation
  • This is an on going dangerous situation, we have reached out to many people for help. And will do our best to keep everyone updated. There are other victims from this terrible situation, call the Antioch Police Department for assistance.

Please contact Ms. Nina Carter, community crisis specialist for information or to be of any assistance to the Dillihants and their family 1-800-377-0190.

Antioch Police: (925) 778-2441

Antioch Police Email: jstenger@antiochca.gov

Henry L. Dillihant, III, MSPH, M.H.Sc.

Antioch

 

 

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Antioch Police release photo of suspect’s car in Feb. shooting death of elderly woman

Tuesday, April 19th, 2022

Photo of suspect’s car involved in shooting death in Antioch on Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022. Photo: APD

 Seek public’s help identifying suspect and car

By Antioch Police Department

The Antioch Police posted the following on Tuesday, April 19, 2022, regarding the shooting death of an elderly woman identified as Amina Haji of Antioch, on Feb. 8, 2022. (See related article)

2/8/22 at 7 pm a shooting occurred at Canada Valley/Pinnacle View, Antioch. A subject in a silver Dodge Charger shot at a Honda sedan killing the passenger we are asking for assistance to identify the suspect/ car contact Detective Whitaker 925-779-6890 wwhitaker@antiochca.gov.

On Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022, at approximately 7:02 PM, Antioch Police Department dispatch received a call from a motorist, a 29-year-old male, who requested medical attention on Canada Valley Road near Pinnacle View Way, due to his 76-year-old female passenger having difficulties breathing. During rescue efforts, it was discovered the victim sustained at least one gunshot wound to her back.

Allen D. Payton contributed to this report.

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Antioch man dies when car strikes tree while racing on James Donlon Blvd. Sunday afternoon

Monday, April 18th, 2022

By Lieutenant Joe Donleavy #6011 Field Services, Antioch Police Department

On Sunday, April 17, 2022, at approximately 2:13 PM, Antioch Police Department officers were dispatched to James Donlon Blvd. near Silverado Drive on a report of a traffic collision involving a vehicle that struck a tree. Arriving officers located a Subaru with major damage crashed into a tree on the center median of the roadway. The sole occupant of the Subaru was pronounced deceased on scene by medical personnel. He was later identified as 26-year-old Steve Hernandez of Antioch. The preliminary investigation indicates that the driver of the Subaru was racing another vehicle at the time of the collision. It is unknown if drugs or alcohol were a contributing factor in the collision.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Antioch Police Department non-emergency line at (925) 778-2441. You may also text-a-tip to 274637 (CRIMES) using the key word ANTIOCH.

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Thieves use ATV in attempt to steal ATM at Delta Schools credit union in Antioch Sunday morning

Monday, April 18th, 2022

Damage to the ATM at Antioch Schools Federal Credit Union branch on Lone Tree Way caused by thieves early Sunday morning, April 17, 2022. Photos: ASFCU

Broke into branch; CEO provides details; over $100,000 in damage to just front of the building; attempt at Bank of America branch on Lone Tree Way Sunday morning may be related

A repair crew works to cover the damage to the front of the credit union branch Sunday morning.

By Allen D. Payton

In a post on their Facebook page on Sunday, April 17, Delta Schools Federal Credit Union announced the attempted theft of the ATM at their Lone Tree Way branch, earlier that morning.

“Hope everyone is enjoying their Sunday. This happened this morning at 4 AM. So before you head over to use the ATM just wanted you to know Antioch’s finest decided to try and steal the ATM. They were not able to get anything just destroyed the front of the building and ATM. A huge thank you to Adam Wetzel from Next Level Solutions for answering the call at 6 AM and getting a crew out to shore up and secure the building. Give him a call 925-457-4966 for your construction needs. Twice he has come out and helped us in an emergency. Be safe out there. Thank you to Freedom Alarm for getting the police dispatched and out the office.”

When reached for comment Rob Greaff, CEO and President of the credit union said, “It was a comedy of errors watching it on the video. They almost ran over one of the guys three times.” “They were using a Gator-type recreational vehicle using a chain,” he continued. “It was a four-seater with a utility bed on the back. They had been planning this. They had chains, crowbars and even an extra gas can.”

The thieves also broke into the branch and caused more damage with a crowbar.

“They tried to get behind the teller window. But that’s bullet-resistant glass so it didn’t shatter. Then they left,” Greaff stated. “I’m downloading the surveillance camera videos and sharing them with Brentwood and Antioch Police.”

“I got the call about 4:10 AM,” he said. “The cameras showed they started in about 4:02 AM and made several attempts before finally breaching and causing the motion detector to set it off.”

“The B of A in Brentwood on Lone Tree was also hit Sunday morning, by the Carl’s Jr. at Shady Willow Lane,” he shared. “The police officers from Brentwood are waiting for photos from that incident to compare. The officer who showed up at our place said someone saw it flying down Lone Tree and that he was going to check the homeless encampments.”

“All they did was damage the entire front of the building after four attempts, and then damaged the inside and left us with a blood sample,” Greaff continued. “They cut themselves on something.”

“I was lucky to get someone to come out on an Easter Sunday morning. Otherwise, I would have had to stay here all day and night long,” he shared. “The good part is everyone is safe. Everything can be fixed and replaced. But a lot of damage. I don’t know the dollar amount. The gentleman who came out, who was only looking at the outside, said we’re looking at a minimum of $100,000 in physical damage. But that doesn’t include damage inside.”

The complete damage amount won’t be known until all the subcontractors provide him estimates.

“It makes you feel violated that someone can come in and do this and we know there hasn’t been any support to prosecute in the past,” Greaff added. “We don’t know if it will change. But if they aren’t dealt with, they’ll just keep doing the same.”

The credit union serves the financial needs of current and retired teachers and staff of Antioch and East County schools and any resident in the entire community.

“Any local resident can come in and open an account,” he shared.

The credit union has two branches located at 5123 Lone Tree Way in the Venture Commerce Center and at 701 W. 18th Street across from Antioch High School and both are open.

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Mental health treatment module opens at Martinez Detention Facility

Tuesday, April 5th, 2022

Photos: CCCSheriff

By Jimmy Lee, Director of Public Affairs, Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff

A new module for inmates who have mental illnesses has opened at the Martinez Detention Facility. This follows an 18-month remodel of a module which previously held 52 inmates. Now, it will house only 24 inmates who have mental illnesses. They will be supervised 24/7 by county health staff in addition to deputy sheriffs. The cells are all single-occupancy and include 5 cells for acute cases. There are also two private medical evaluation suites in the module.

“I am proud of this new module which is part of the jail modernization we planned many years ago,” said Contra Costa County Sheriff David Livingston. “Now, inmates who have mental illnesses will have a dedicated housing unit where they will receive mental health treatment, programming, and services, in addition to healthcare.

Photos: CCCSheriff

The new module has incorporated the latest technology and best practices for detention facilities. This includes state of the art software for managing the module, furnishings that will help prevent suicides and a design that allows for greater observation of the inmates. The new module also uses a biophilic design to create a calm environment, reduce stress, and is more conducive to therapy.

“This new module sets the standard for these types of detention facilities,” said Livingston. “This reflects the commitment of the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office and Contra Costa County in serving the needs of inmates who are living with mental health issues.”

 

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Antioch superintendent shares details of Deer Valley High lockdown last Wednesday due to reported gun

Monday, April 4th, 2022

Shooting of teen and fireworks both occurred in the vicinity

By Allen D. Payton

In response to efforts to obtain information about the lock down of Deer Valley High School on Wednesday, March 30, 2022, Antioch Unified School District Stephanie Anello responded on Saturday, April 2 writing, “Around 2:30 pm that day, a parent from a nearby school called the school and reported that a young adult or teenage males were running towards DVHS wherein at least one weapon was reported.

“We immediately called dispatch and were informed that there was no need to lock down. However, out of an abundance of caution, I instructed the school to lock down until we could assess the situation. Staff walked the perimeter of the school and monitored the gates. At about 2:52 pm we again called dispatch. At that time, we were told that the activity in the neighborhood was firecrackers.

“A reporter called me at around 4:30 PM that same day and notified me that there had been a shooting near the campus at around 2:35 pm. We called staff together for a meeting first thing the next morning as we anticipated confusion and concern. An officer was at the meeting who confirmed that there was miscommunication from dispatch. At approximately the same time there were fireworks in the vicinity there was also a shooting.

Thank you for reaching out and let me know if you have any further questions. I am going to forward this to the rest of the board as well, in case they have similar questions.”

Eastcountytoday.net reported that a 16-year-old male was shot and “showed up at a nearby hospital with a non-life-threatening gunshot wound.”

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Antioch Mayor Thorpe claims lack of active sworn police officers part of national “Great Resignation” trend

Monday, April 4th, 2022

Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe speaks as announced, new interim police chief Dr. Steve Ford looks on during a press conference on police staffing and incentive programs for hiring more officers on Monday, April 4, 2022. Photo by Allen D. Payton

Says APD down 13 officers from 115 budgeted; proposes financial incentives to hire lateral officers from other agencies, academy graduates; admits to private meeting with DA, interim city manager

Police leader says officers are leaving and don’t want to hire on to APD due to mayor, council majority, policies and attitudes; attrition wasn’t happening under former Chief Brooks; claims five officers under investigation and on paid leave

Mayor Pro Tem Barbanica says APD down to 78 sworn active officers on the force, police officers telling him the council majority is to blame for attrition

Thorpe confirms currently only 78 active sworn officers

By Allen D. Payton

APOA President Corporal Steve Aiello spoke on the California W.T.F. podcast which aired on Friday, April 1, 2022.

Following a local podcast last Friday in which the president of the Antioch Police Officers Association, Corporal Steve Aiello said the lack of active sworn officers on the force is directly due to the mayor and council majority, their policies and attitudes toward police, and a YouTube video by Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica posted on his official Facebook page, Sunday night sharing 24 officers are “off work” for a “variety of reasons”, Mayor Lamar Thorpe held a press conference Monday morning claiming the attrition in the department is due to national trends.

The announced, new interim police chief Dr. Steve Ford also participated in the press conference and later said his own hiring process should be completed either this week or early next week.

During the podcast, Aiello spoke about exit interviews with officers which provided him with the reasons they are leaving the department and partly why the force was down to just 83 active sworn officers two weeks ago. That was prior to the investigation by the FBI and DA’s office of five officers who have been placed on paid administrative leave, according to Aiello. (See related article)

Screenshot of Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica’s YouTube video on Sunday, April 3, 2022.

Thorpe wouldn’t confirm that number when asked during the press conference. Aiello said three of those officers have told him they were surprised and don’t know why they’re being investigated.

Barbanica said there are currently 78 active sworn officers, which Thorpe did confirm during the press conference. Barbanica also provided a breakdown of police staffing in his Facebook post writing, “an update on current staffing levels at the APD. Keep in mind, this is a 24/7 operation. Patrol 52 (Including Supervisors/Managers), Community Engagement Team 2, Traffic 4 (Including 1 Supervisor), Investigations 12 (Including Supervisors/Managers), Admin 8, Off Work 24 (variety of reasons).”

Current Staffing Confirmed at 102 Sworn on Staff, 78 Active, Claims APD Part of National Trend in Police Staffing Losses

Thorpe and Ford said the current Antioch Police Department staffing level is at 102 sworn police officers, leaving 13 sworn positions currently open from the 115 approved in the city budget. There are three officers currently in the police academy who will graduate in July, which will reduce the vacancies to 10. Thorpe confirmed there are currently only 78 active sworn officers on the force.

The mayor spoke of national trends with vacancies in government employment, which he said is, “the economic phenomenon called ‘The Great Resignation’ where many employees across the U.S. have resigned from their jobs, most notably during the global, COVID pandemic…resulting in lower productivity and a decline in morale.”

“Only hospitality and government are witnessing actual decline in the workforce, meaning workers aren’t being replaced or replaced fast enough, otherwise known as attrition,” Thorpe continued. “‘20-‘21 marked the highest rate of state and local government job openings in the past 20 years, which means local governments are understaffed. Law enforcement is the largest group driving workforce losses through local government.”

A ‘20-‘21 report by the Police Executive Research Forum rightly notes that nationally, there has been a 45% increase in retirements and a 20% increase in resignations compared to previous years” he stated. “Antioch’s law enforcement agency is no exception to this staffing crisis.”

However, Thorpe did not offer any reasons for the attrition either nationally or locally. Aiello stated during Friday’s podcast, the losses in the Antioch Police Department staffing weren’t happening during former Chief Tammany Brooks’ tenure in the position, who resigned at the beginning of last October.

Proposes Increasing Incentives for Lateral, Academy Hires, Increase in Over Hire Sworn Staffing by Four Officers

Also, during the press conference, Thorpe and Ford announced proposed financial incentives to attract the hiring of lateral officers from other departments and police academy graduates. They include increasing from $10,000 to a “$40,000 structured signing bonus”, with $20,000 paid upon hiring, $10,000 at the end of the officer’s first year with the department, and another $10,000 paid at the end of their third year. They are also proposing the same incentives for academy recruits.

The other proposed incentive is for up to $60,000 for down payment assistance per academy graduate for the purchase of a home in Antioch, for which they would have to remain on the Antioch police force for at least five years.

In addition, Thorpe proposed increasing the over hire of sworn police officer staffing in the department from the current 121 to 125.

However, “these positions will have to be directly tied to any anticipated retirements or resignations, or any long-term administrative leave,” Thorpe explained.

The city council will have to approve any of the proposed incentives and increase in over hire for the department.

Asked if the money for the home down payments will be from the city’s General Fund or the police budget, Thorpe replied, “Obviously, we have significant salary savings at this point. So, we can look at that pot of money. We could look at the General Fund but we could also look at ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act of 2021) funding. So, again, this is for a 12-month period and if after 12 months we may find we’ll need to do it, again.”

Thorpe wouldn’t answer the question if he would offer any incentives to keep the current officers on the Antioch police force. But as he walked out of the council chambers, he continued answering questions of one reporter about hiring lateral officers who are under investigation in their current departments. Thorpe’s answer could not be understood.

Thorpe Admits to Private Meeting with DA, Interim City Manager, Says They Were Asked to Cooperate with Investigation of APD, Won’t Say How He’s Helping

During the press conference, Thorpe confirmed what had been previously reported, of a private meeting he and Interim City Manager Con Johnson had with Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton on Tuesday, March 22, the day before the investigation occurred.

The meeting was held just three days following Thorpe’s arrest for DUI and while he was under investigation by her department. (See related article)

Thorpe said the meeting was held by Becton to request his and Johnson’s cooperation in the investigation and they were to “keep confidentiality as this was an ongoing investigation”. Asked if the information he had received as one of the five council members was shared with all of the other four, Thorpe replied, “no, because the district attorney said to keep this confidential between myself and the city manager, because they were soliciting our help in the investigation.”

Asked how he as a civilian was helping the investigation, Thorpe replied, “I’m not going to get into that.” He later said, “Let me just clarify something. I was asked to be down there as the mayor of Antioch. So, beyond that I’m not going to answer how or what.”

Thorpe Won’t Confirm How Many Officers Under Investigation, Cause of Attrition

About how many officers were on paid leave and what Aiello had said Thorpe was asked, “you’re claiming, now, that those officers, 28 or so, are on paid leave because of national trends and they’re leaving, but they’re sick and injured…and he (Aiello) said that many are not coming back. Is that correct?”

“That’s not what I said. That’s everything you inferred,” Thorpe replied. “What I can tell you is that currently, we have 24 people who are on either injury or administrative leave. It’s a combination of both and we’re not going to get specific as to who, because we have to protect people’s personnel files and their privacy and their confidentiality. So, I’m not going to play this game with you trying to take information from people’s personnel files and exploit it for the media. I’m not going to do that.”

Asked again, “so, we were down to 83 officers before the five were placed on paid administrative leave, correct?” Thorpe responded, “currently we are down 24 unavailable.”

Barbanica Says Officers Tell Him Thorpe, Council Majority Are to Blame for Attrition

When reached for comment, Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica said, “I speak with law enforcement, daily including Antioch officers and other local agencies and they’re telling me it’s the council majority that’s to blame for the attrition.”

“At one point, Antioch was viewed as the agency to go to,” he added.

See YouTube videos of the press conference by the Antioch Herald here, here, and here and on Thorpe’s official Facebook page.

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

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