Letter: Retired Police Chief Speaks Out Against Thorpe and Wilson’s Antioch Tax Proposal

Allan Cantando, retired Antioch Police Chief

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As the retired Chief of the Antioch Police Department, I find the recent proposal to repackage Measure C presented by Mayor Pro-Tem, Lamar Thorpe, and Councilwoman, Monica Wilson, very upsetting and extremely concerning.

Measure C was adopted by the voters to retain and increase the number of sworn officers in the Antioch Police Department following the loss of staff that resulted from the great recession. Since its passage, more than 50 police officers have been hired, response times have greatly improved, and crime has been reduced.

The six hires in Feb 2014 include: Ofc. JP Hulleman, Ofc. Marcos Torres, Ofc. Amel Sahnic, Ofc. Trak Keo-Vann, Ofc. Ben Padilla, and Ofc. Matt Allendorph.

When the voters were polled about Measure C prior to the 2013 election, it was supported at a level of three-quarters of a cent for each dollar spent over a ten-year period.

Unfortunately, when the City asked for the Chamber of Commerce’s support, then Chamber CEO and now Mayor Dr. Sean Wright, refused to support the initiative unless the City reduced it to a half-cent on each dollar spent for a period of 7 years. Unfortunately, city leaders took their direction from the Chamber rather than the voters and lowered the amount and length of the proposal.

Fast forward to 2018 and the Measure C tax is soon set to expire. City leaders are now proposing to the voters a tax of 1 cent per dollar for the next 10 years. However, they propose to divert 40% of that funding away from the police department to increase after school programs, senior activities and code enforcement to name a few. However, no data has been presented that I am aware of that indicates this is the best use of tax revenue. Rather, the proposal –on its face, seems to be filled with the pet projects and campaign promises of a few members of the Council.

This type of fiscal irresponsibility must stop. Voters must demand that all decisions be made using data that supports its use.

Although voting for the repackaged Measure C will provide funding to support the Antioch Police Department, the full amount should be directed towards the police department rather than the diluted amount proposed by Mayor Pro-Tem Thorpe and Councilwoman Wilson. The Antioch Police Department deserves to be staffed at a level wherein officers can be proactive with expanded traffic bureaus, violent crime patrol teams, a larger detective bureau, School Resource Officers etc.

Retired Chief Cantando and Retired Captain Diane Aguinaga from 2015

I have serious concerns about any Councilperson who votes to approve this proposal.  Those who do clearly do not understand how understaffed their police department is, or what is truly needed to properly address the crime challenges in Antioch that threaten the quality of life for those who live here.

In reality, the Antioch Police Department should be staffed at a much higher level (125-150) so that the department can be proactive and not reactive.

The residents of Antioch deserve to have a properly staffed police department in order to prevent and respond to issues that threaten public safety rather than a menagerie of proposed programs that have little or no data to support their efficacy in improving the city.

Allan Cantando
Retired Antioch Police Chief


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22 COMMENTS

  1. Ex police chief. Allen Cantando is right the intent of measures has still not been reached. & As I recall money from measure C was for police only! . Under this new flawed proposal less money will be allocated to police. which is not what we voted for in the first place .
    when council member listened to the chamber of commerce, rather than voters in the past . it is proof they can’t be trusted to do will of Antioch voters. Apparently nothing has changed..
    it’s a fact voter often support an issue only to have the money diverted to other pet projects by self-serving politician’s this cannot be allowed to happen here . Antioch continues to grow & we will need a fully staffed Polices dept for the safety of all citizens.
    Using law enforcement & measure C as a ploy to get money for non-essential projects cannot be allowed .
    I agree with Ex chief Cantsndo . this new proposal to “ repackage” Measure C . needs to be rejected & the intent to measure of C retained. Which was for law enforcement only !

    • Measure C was a General Tax that went to the City’s General Fund and could be spent on anything. If it was for police only, it would require a 2/3rds vote to pass.

  2. They can raise the taxes 5 cents, none of this will matter once the new D.A takes over. This City and County will only get worse with her in charge. Shes a criminals dream and she will let her people off the hook for crimes with reduced sentences. If youre not a gun owner, you really should become one asap!

    • Are you making remarks based on her race? Who are “her people?” Are you talking about Judges, since has been one for a number of years, or are you talking about Assistant District Attorneys since she’s been one, or are you talking about me and all the White, Hispanic, Asian, Black, Christian, Muslim, LQBTQ, Men, Women, Wealthy, Poor, and Intelligent Educated people who voted for her ? Is that what you mean by “her people,” because they are the ones who elected her from all over our county.

      Oh, and don’t bother to respond, because I will not be reading this column. I’d rather have conversations in person with people who are not hateful and biased. I only read this article because I wanted to read comments posted by people I respect.

      • Look at her articles with her people holding up the black panther fist, thats tells you everything we need to know. Also, ” Intelligent Educated people ” did not vote for her, its the opposite actually. She is soft and will ruin this County worse then it is, but you keep living in your little fantasy world. This race was similiar to the race for our president as far as win margin and how did that work out so far? How many people regret voting for him?

        • At least Iris is using her real name and not an alias. You shouldn’t be knocking someone for what they believe. Instead, discuss the issues.

          • She can knock what i believe, thats ok right? Makes sense…..Most dont use there name on here, who cares what my name is? But thats fine, I wont post on here anymore, so that you can continue to have a one sided argument on all your topics that you agree with. Good luck to you.

      • There are people holding up Black Panther signs. They’re militant blacks, and society knows this. Once again, everything is a racial issue. It’s a “victim mentality” and it gets old.

  3. Thank you; great article. Sean Wright’s judgment concerning Measure C is very disappointing and concerning.

  4. I have major issues with his statement and responded almost paragraph by paragraph.

    No “loss of staff” occurred within the sworn ranks. Facts are, APOA didn’t want to give up anything in their sweetheart contract which had increases every year and sometimes multiple increases the same year. Because of that, the only losses at PD were the CSOs. And when Jakal finally stood up and said there’s no where else to layoff but PD, APOA finally gave up a COLA. Again, no loss of staff (sworn), just a little bit of money. The actual losses in PD were from retirements and transfers. Those who were close to retirement, or had better opportunities, saw that it wasn’t going to get better anytime soon. Especially when it came close to the end of that 6-year contract that almost bankrupt the City. They got out under their highest 1-year because they didn’t know what the next contract would look like.

    So behind the scenes he supported a 0.75% tax but not a 0.5%? If he couldn’t get it all, he didn’t want it? Sean did his job as Chamber Chair to put the City in check. It’s like any tax, you can’t jump straight to the top. You might be able to increment as times get better, and times were definitely bad back then, so going with 0.5% would be easier to swallow for residents AND businesses. The City was smart to COMPROMISE (a word the PD doesn’t know) because having a dedicated revenue stream was better than none. But obviously Allan still has heartburn over that.

    Why is he purposely misinforming people? There were no losses at PD of sworn officers other than through normal processes. The only losses were CSOs that they caused themselves. There’s no diversion of funding. Fact is, it’s an increase to the PD from a 50% sales tax to 60%, and 40% added for other City services. There is more in this City that needs help than just the PD but no one at PD, not even those who are retired, sees it that way.

    Ironically, the fiscal irresponsibility started under his watch. He was in favor of the 0.75% but is now complaining that it was only 0.5%. He’s not even acknowledging the fact that the proposed tax would be an increase in PD funding. Look at the streets. Filled with garbage, weeds, and dead plants. Look at the Senior center. Old and dilapidated. And recreation is a joke in this City. Here’s the bottom line. If other city services, which currently receive support from the GF, had some type of dedicated revenue stream, those GF contributions could be siphoned by the PD. Not only would the PD get 60% of the new revenue stream, it would get whatever the GF was covering in those other areas. Sounds like a win-win. PD gets what they always want (more money) and the residents get a better quality of living.

    I have serious concerns about a former chief who uses his former position to pulpit but doesn’t provide all the facts and blatantly states that all the money should go to his former department. As stated before, there’s more to this City that needs help besides the PD.

    Yes, we all know that PD is understaffed but so are other parts of the City. Reality meet Antioch; Antioch meet reality. Public works should have double the staff it has. Recreation should be self-sufficient and have 3 times as many employees. We should sell the golf course. We should have 10 engineering and building inspectors. Community development should be fully staffed, as well as code enforcement. And there should be no contract workers. When does the PD’s greediness end and some type of compromise and reality check outside their blinders happen?

  5. I think this entire proposal is obnoxious. Thorpe and Wilson should be recalled or at least educated on what a proposal looks like.

    I have a variety of questions.

    1. Define youth programs. Who is getting the money? Nonprofits, churches,
    2. After School and Summer programs. Is this duplicating what the school district already does? Is it trying to take over from the school district which we already pay taxes for? Is the poorly run Antioch recreation department simply getting more money to put into low attendance and useless programs?
    3. Anti-gang programs? Appears Thorpe and Wilson think youth are the problem in Antioch.
    4. Safe and healthy play areas? Of the 30+ parks Antioch has, shouldn’t they already be doing that? With a fully staff police force this would happen.
    5. Why is code enforcement listed with Traffic enforcement? One is police and one is not.
    6. Water quality & safety? What does that even mean? Perhaps the city should actually provide maintenance for their water system or is this money going to the desalination plant?
    7. Support senior programs and services. What programs are they talking about or is this a remodel of the Nick Rodriguez building?
    8. Address street & roads. They should already being doing this with money they have.
    9. Attracting and retaining local business. Pretty simple, fix your police force staffing levels and this would be easy. Instead, they spend $100k on branding, $100k on marketing with no results. So what does this even mean? Just throw money at the problem?

    This is a half assed attempt at a proposal that is full of no information of where money would actually be spent. Unlike Measure C, we all knew it was going to PD and code enforcement.

    Shame on Thorpe and Wilson.

    • The Water Department is an Enterprise Fund and is not supported by the General Fund. So I am a bit confused as to why it is mentioned in the staff report and resolution.

    • @Common Sense
      1. agree. more info needed
      2. agree. more info needed
      3. agree.
      4. i believe it’s more for upgrades and/or new play structures and areas. a lot of areas are severely outdated and there’s no money available. whatever is being spent is barely maintaining what’s there, if at all. more police doesn’t necessarily equal more safety at parks. safety includes structures, lighting, accessibility, line of sight, etc.
      5. correct. although money to either of those isn’t a bad thing.
      6. no money has been dedicated to the desal plant. in fact, they’re not even sure how that’s going to be funded even though they got the grant. it’s possible that some of this new sales tax money could go to it, which would be fine with me, as it’s another way to secure water for residents without having to be at the mercy of the CCWD. It’s a good use of the very unique water rights the city has and totally feasible.
      7. NR needs to be remodeled. Badly. But agree, more info needed.
      8. Don’t have enough. Too much backlog and not enough funds to cover even with gas tax. Because of that the GF also contributes to those. That GF money could go back to PD if there was a dedicated revenue stream like this tax. What’s really scary is if SB1 fails this November. Voters don’t even have a clue how bad things will get if that gets repealed. Not that I was for that either. Brown totally screwed us there and feel he should have been impeached by enacting a tax disguised as an executive fiscal emergency even though we have a surplus. But it’s already been a year of living with it and gas prices are kinda stabilizing and projects have been planned with that money. It’s either live with it and get things fixed or live with crappy roads, bridges, etc. for a long time.
      9. It’s not all PD that attracts businesses. Quality roads, attractive landscaping, and a clean city entice businesses. Location, location, location but also a good amount of traffic so you can be seen. Keeping crime down is a major component but it’s not the end all be all.

      I agree this is a poor attempt and full of holes. They better get it together and provide some clarification; however, how this is presented plus the clear bias and inaccuracies of the former chief makes it worse.

  6. I also find it incredulous that this opinion is coming from a man that receives a pension of $215k/yr. I hate to burst everyone’s bubble but the money from Measure C isn’t going to more cops, it’s going to the police force existing salaries and pension payments. Salaries and pension payments come first. Whatever’s leftover is all you have available for new hires which, per contract, will continue to go down as salaries go up each year (sometimes twice!). That’s why we’re not hitting the numbers that were promised, and never will. That explains the ‘I/we deserve it all’ mentality.

  7. OMG! “me” stop whining already. It’s obvious you are not happy in your line of work. If a cop’s life sounds so amazingly luxurious to you — go apply. I heard Antioch is hiring. . .

    • Love it. Stating facts = whining. I always enjoy the ‘go sign up’ response. I’d totally do it but I’m too old and went down a different path. Here’s the deal. Like any job, every person knows what they’re signing up for. Secretary, janitor, cop, etc. Some jobs have a higher chance of being injured or killed but again, you know that going in. Being a cop is one of them. Am I saying don’t pay them well for what they do for us? No. What I am saying is all this superfluous dedicated funding is going to salaries and pension payments, not more cops. There will never be enough money to get to those lofty staffing levels because their labor contracts take the money first for the existing force. Those who can retire, do. And they’re retiring at the 2nd highest paid in the County, or more, given the amount of OT and other perks (longevity pay, etc). Those who find better jobs (and not necessarily for more money), leave. What’s very disappointing, and proves my ‘all or nothing’ mentality, is no compromise or counter proposal that they could support. 60/40 split isn’t good enough. So what about 65/35? 75/25? 80/20? Anything?

      This a wake up call. The main reason PD wants more and/or all of the sales tax money is not to hire more cops. It’s the mechanism which enables them to continue their sweetheart contracts and retire fat. Take a look at the top 10 retirees here: https://transparentcalifornia.com/pensions/2017/calpers/?e=CITY+OF+ANTIOCH&s=-pension. Only 1 is not a cop and that’s our former City Attorney, Bill Galstan.

      • For the most part youre right, but slot of people dont like to look are real facts, they fall for the fear tactic traps that these people put out.

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