The Antioch City Council agreed Tuesday to allow the police department to hire up to 112-police officers, add additional positions, and add 3 Community Service Officers as they continue to work through their 2019-21 budget.
It is still unclear what Measure W money is funding what and at what percentages as that was not shared Tuesday night. The Police Chief had requested 115-officers, however, the council opted for 112-officers.
The Council then went through the balanced Budget Approach and the big discussion item came from the number of CSO’s to hire because in year 2 of the budget they were facing a $900k deficit.
Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock wanted 4-additional CSO’s to make it a total of 6-CSO’s which Mayor Sean Wright supported. Meanwhile, Thorpe and Wilson wanted to keep it at 2 CSO’s.
Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts concern was future spending on the budget and could not decide if she wanted 2-or-4 CSO’s.
Wright countered that the closer they get to the Enhanced Budget, the more funds they were going to eat up more quickly. Wright noted that in two-years, they are potentially going to have cannabis funding to offset the spending. If they didn’t get the funds from cannabis, they could make adjustments later.
Motts called it a “leap of faith”.
Wright asked Chief Tammany Brooks point blank how important that office assistant is to him. Brooks replied it’s the first line of contact that people have when they walk into the animal shelter saying this is the person is going to help people as they walk in, licensing, from a public contact standpoint its “pretty intracule”.
Seeking ways to save on spending, the Council worked with the City Manager on the Public Information Officer Position and if a full-time hired position as needed and instead go with a contract employee. Ron Bernal, City Manager, stated they would start with a contact person and work towards a hired person.
The council then moved back to the debate over the number of CSO’s where Conucilwoman Wilson asked if he would be okay with 2 CSO’s.
Brooks said he would use the 2 as jailers.
“I would use the two as jailers, yes, when we started talking about the four CSO’s, that is when we see an impact on patrol services which we allow CSO’s to handle the lower level calls for service,” explained Brooks who said it would allow them to expand the hours.
Councilwoman Monica Wilson was firm saying they should start with 2 CSO’s and see where they end up.
Mayor Wright asked Brooks if they went with 4 CSO’s what type of impact would it have on Type 3 and Type 4 level calls in terms of response from the police department.
Brooks said each CSO would respond to 8-to-10 calls each day which normally an officer would respond to out in the field. He said with 2 CSO’s they would hit 16-20 calls per service each day which frees up officers for other priority calls.
“We have two for four, and two for two,” said Wright. “Joy I would say whatever number you decide to put up there is the number that ends up going up there. Right now, we have two for four and two for two, whatever number you decide to go with I think is the number we move forward with.”
Motts opted for 3 CSO’s and the council agreed.
The Council will again see the budget in June to finalize the budget based on the direction of the City Council.
- Community Development – left alone
- Information Systems – left alone
- Recreation – left alone
- Human Resources – left alone
- Finance – left alone
- City Managers office – opted not to go forward with assistant city manager, but added PIO position as a contract position.
- Police Department – 112 officers and decided on 3 CSO’s.
Notes – The council agreed to having $600k in reserves in current year but by next year are $900k deficit spending
During Public Comments:
Antioch Police Sergeant James Stenger addressed the violence crimes and ganges saying since Measure C passed that they have made a huge stride in reducing violent crimes and gangs in the city by explaining Antioch has been one of the most dangerous cities in California and they are going to fall off that list and want to be way off that list in the next 5-years.
“I want to continue to see that hard work by the city and the members of the Antioch Police Department,” said Stenger “I believe we are on the cusp of where we should be with manpower and I believe with the proper funding we can continue doing the good work that we do and do a little bit more by having a few more officers, analysts, techs and SCOs. I just don’t want to go backwards and I don’t want to stay stagnant.”
Antioch Police Officers Association President Steve Aiello told the council they had an opportunity to make a decision to change the perception of Antioch by allowing the police department to increase the staffing levels which the citizens of Antioch voted for and deserved.
“As you recall, Measure C was voted and passed by the citizens to allow an increase in staffing for the police department and code enforcement. Under Measure C, the police department is now over 100 sworn police officers. Measure W was always advertised to replace Measure C and in fact double the revenue of Measure C. The numbers of consistently showed that $7 million in revenue under Measure C and was always projected that Measure W raised $14 million. The APOA endorsed Measure W because we told him we were so told that 80% of the monies would be allocated to the police department to increase staffing to bring the PD to 115 sworn. 1 officer per 1,000 residents, yet still below the county average of 1.2 officers per thousand. I’ll remind you that members of council and publicly stated that were supportive of allocating 80% of total revenue of Measure W which is just over $11 million and also hiring additional police officer’s bringing the total score until 115.”
Aiello also challenged the council on unfunded liabilities to PERS.
“I understand this a significant cost to the city, which is why in 2016 two years before PEPRA requirements took effect with legacy and classic employees the POA negotiated his current contract to include an increase to each of its safety members contributing to purse. In 2016 through 2018 the only requirement of safety employees, it was a 9% contribution because of the term of the POA contract. The 9% would not have been negotiated until 2021 because the POA understands the city’s lack of revenue and costs of PERS, the police officers began to pay 10% of their portion of PERS in 2016, 11% in 2017 and 12% in 2018. An additional 3% the police officers have been paying for PERS have been going to the city with the understanding the monies are being allocated to pay the unfunded liability. There was no contract with the city of Antioch and PERS to directly allocate those monies to the off set at the employers own cost. So I ask where does this money been gone since 2016? The General Fund or payments done funded liability?”
Aiello closed by stating he realized there is a big push for youth services amongst the council, which he is not against, but stated it was not the time to compromise the fight against real crime that continued to jeopardize the safety of Antioch residents.
Antioch resident Mike Barbanica explained he was originally against Measure W until it was told the money would go to police.
“The residents of the city are in this local community are watching because they feel that they’ve been bait and switched. They do. It’s that simple. They feel that they were sold one thing and there being possibly delivered another,” said Barbanica. “So, I’m urging the council to consider not what I’m saying, but what the police chief who’s running this department is recommending, the officers that are working day and night, and the community that back this measure. This is what we all wanted. We wanted more cops.”
Retired Antioch Police Sergeant Tom Furmann, who spent 29-years of his life as a police officer, said that when he was 21-years-old the police department had 86-officers and they don’t have many more than that today but the city is now bigger and crime is worse than it was back then.
He was also critical of youth services not being utilized.
“We’ve had plenty of services in this town. I’m not against them. We built a beautiful waterpark that can’t fund itself. We continue to fund that. We’ve had sports programs, football and baseball, you name it, all kinds of programs and they’re underutilized. Once upon a time they were full, but they’re underutilized and here we want to continue to add more programs instead of beefing up the ones that we currently have and getting participation and knows something has to be done to correct that rather than simply diverting money to the private sector to come in and spend public funds as a cash cow. They’re looking at the city as a cash cow and what guarantees do we have that those programs are going to succeed? What plan have we seen her projections and how far out they’re going to go and make sure that these programs are going to succeed in our city? When many programs have failed in the past, we’re making the same errors that we always have. We can’t continue to do that.”
“The voters were told that this was going to be a police tax, that this was going to fund the police department and Code Enforcement. That was a bill of sale. That’s what I voted on and come 2020. If my Council does not do the right thing, I’m retired and I’m not opposed to getting a shave and a haircut and put a suit back on and jumping in the ring. And I will unseat one of you do the right thing,” said Furmann.
“That means for growth, growth or revenue, that’s not reflected anywhere. So if you don’t have a safe city, first of all, how are you going to get growth? What good is marketing going to do? You going to market the crime in Antioch. Crazy,” asked Sbranti. “You guys determine how safe we are and that’s scary sometimes. I hope you will support the fact that Antioch needs to reduce crime in order to make it a better city. A safe city allows for a lot of good things to happen. The citizens of Antioch willingly supported and voted in a 1% tax increase in order to have a safer city. I did not vote for a Measure W because I felt that the city council would do a bait and switch, meaning they would say the money was to reduce our crime is crime ridden city and then do something else with the money. Since Measure C though, our crime rate has dropped. The data overwhelmingly shows that increased police presence reduces the incidences of crime. Yet the people who make the decision, you the city council, ignore what the voters at the time supported reduction in crime by increasing our police force and you spin it in a way that we need to spend money for your pet programs.”
Sbranti further accused the city council of smoke and mirrors will being spin masters before encouraging them to put the money what it was aimed for which was to reduce crime.
Mark Jordan explained that youth crime is down and stated a school board member did not do her homework. He explained that youth crime has dropped from 19% between 2013-2018 of the total crimes to 9%–more than a 50% drop.
“You need to put the money into code enforcement, you need more code enforcement officers in a need more police,” said Jordan. Police will raise the property values here in town. Code enforcement officers will raise the property values, it will produce more income. And then with that additional income we can look at additional programs.”
Ralph Garrow called for the 80% of Measure W and 20% to youth services and quality of life saying they need a safe community and we need the perception of a safe community when we market the community as a safe community.
Former Antioch City Councilman Tony Tiscareno stated he supported the enhanced budget which would bring the police department to 115 officers by 2021 fiscal year along with additional code enforcement.
Kenneth Kent, a 5th grade teacher, encouraged the council to not make youth services an afterthought saying many students go home each day and they have two things to keep them busy, either the neighborhood or video games. He said the city needs to not make quality of life services an afterthought.
Warren Lutz explained that two years ago law enforcement across the state wrote to Governor Jerry Brown advocating after school programs because after school programs assist with preventing crime because they prevent kids from ever becoming involved in crime in the first place.
“I realize Antioch has a long way to go to get our police department staffed on par with other agencies, but we have much, much further to go when it comes to youth programs, which studies have proven would actually help our police department and they’re all two important mission to help keep our community safe,” said Lutz. “Antioch has the highest proportion of residents under 18 in the entire bay area, it is among the furthest away from major job centers. It has no YMCA, no Boys and Girls Club and a community center that’s empty most evenings. Where are the parents people say, well, there are at their jobs on the road trying to put food on the table… we need to set aside enough money specifically for youth programs and increase access to the community center and the community-based organizations. Our children deserve it.”
Ken Turnage II said the community should not be accepting of “below average” but that is what they are told. He said the police chief should be given the tools to do his job correctly and give direction to what the city needs which is more traffic enforcement.
Council Discussion – Prior to regular City Council meeting
During council discussion, Mayor Sean Wright stated he came out after Measure W passed saying he wanted 115 officers and would like to support the police department. He added that he now realizes how important that second technician is based on current California Law and the requests coming in.
He also stated that the 6 CSO positions were removed in the balanced budget and would like those positions added back in.
Wright further highlighted the first two CSO’s would help with trips to the jail, while the next two would help officers with service calls while an additional two would really officer support.
“I’m in favor of adding those back in to the chief’s request, which would be adding to the records technician, adding the CSO’s. I’m getting to one 115 by 2021,” said Wright. “I’d even be in favor of a moving the animal care attendants from the one to the two.”
Wright acknowledged that the city did not have youth services and they are lacking in drop in services because from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm youths have nowhere to go and that they were working to figure that out.
“Supporting the police department by looking at the balanced approach and adding the police officers would be my request,” said Wright.
Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock suggested they work off the Enhanced Budget for Police Services which would give police chief Tammany Brooks his requests. Wright seconded the motion so they could discuss it.
Ogorchock clarified saying her motion was to accept the police chiefs recommendation (page 5).
At that point, neither Motts, Monica Wilson and Lamar Thorpe did not go for that and wanted to have more conversation.
“I am super concerned as it shows the enhance budget and in 5-years not having any money, so I am not sure that is a really good way to go forward,” said Motts. “I think looking at the balanced budget, thank you city manager Bernal for coming forward with I think a meeting of the minds on a lot of the requests from staff and from council. I think we should really kind of look at the balanced budget.”
She said the balanced budget would help the city across the board.
Councilwoman Wilson questioned Economic Development need of $775,000 which included marketing and programing while in the balanced budget it was brought down to $250k. Wilson argued that she would like to see the department get closer to $500,000.
Ogrochock stated she was in favor of the first year budget of $250k and then doubling it to $500k in year 2.
The council then decided to work off the balanced budget and figure out what they would add and remove.
At that point, the council opted to increase the Economic Development budget from the proposed $250k to $500k.
During the police discussion, Ogorchock recommended they provide the police department with a Crime Analyst, DVM, 2 Records Technician, 2 animal care attendants, and asked for 112 officers in this cycle and adding 3 officers for 115 in 2020.
The big debate of the night was the amount of Community Services Officers whether they would hire two, four, or six. Chief Tammany Brooks explained that if they hired two, he would place them to work with the jails in transporting to and from Antioch to Martinez.
Ogorchock preferred 4 to allow 2 in the jails and 2 in the streets to take calls from police officers and allow them to take more calls.
Editor’s Note – the council did not finish the meeting prior to the start of the City Council meeting at 7:00 pm and conversation continued after the completion of the regular scheduled city council meeting.