On Tuesday, the Antioch City Council will discuss whether or not to reconsider a school resource officer grant that would provide schools with officers to help improve safety.
The School Resource Officer Grant was approved over the summer by both the Antioch City Council and Antioch Unified School District in contentious 3-2 votes by both elected bodies—who agreed to split the $3.2 million cost.
According to the Agenda, the council on Tuesday has the following three options:
- The City Council can adopt a resolution rescinding its acceptance of the US Department of Justice COPS grant.
- The City can reduce the number of SRO’s
- The City Council can opt to take no action
It was announced in June that the Antioch Police were awarded the $750k grant from the US Department of Justice COPS hiring Program which would cost the city an estimated $125,667 per police officers for a total of $754,002 for six positions—which would be split with the Antioch Unified School District.
Following the three-year school resource officer grant cycle, Antioch Police would be required to retain these positions for at least one year and Antioch Police would be required to fund the positions of $41,667 per police officer initially covered by the grant.
The agreement for the split cost between the City came after multiple contentious meetings which were flooded with public comments causing multiple meetings to occur.
Ultimately, the Antioch City Council approved the grant in a 3-2 vote with Sean Wright, Lori Ogrochock and Joy Motts in support, with Lamar Thorpe and Monica Wilson dissenting.
The grant was part of an effort to make the school district safer after calls for school resource officers and more police presence on campus after a fatal shooting in February. However, Thorpe said during the July meeting that youth do not want SRO’s.
Councilmember Lamar Thorpe highlighted how the school district was cutting positions and Antioch was an under resourced District. Thorpe stated his perspective was much different than the mayors saying over the past decade he has not heard the community want school resource officers.
“What I have heard is they do want youth programs, what I have heard is they want mental health specialist, what I have heard is they want opportunities to ensure our young people are being diverted onto the right path and out of trouble,” stated Thorpe. “As a parent, I have a different perspective, I don’t want my daughter going to a school where there are police officers. I think school is for learning and education.”
Thorpe noted in the face of the $1.8 million cut the Antioch Unified School District recently made, eliminating 28-positions, he could not support this proposal.
“We can certainly ask the school district to fund this if they find this important in lieu of the 28-positions they cut, but I find it very problematic that we would go in this direction,” stated Thorpe who suggested they should postpone this until the district decides if it wants to fund this.
He further continued.
“This one is giving me a lot of heartburn because this is contrary to what I think people are demanding in our country, in our state, and in our community right here in Antioch,” stated Thorpe.
Wilson, who voted no on the grant, stated the following:
Councilmember Monica Wilson asked about School Resource Officer training in which Brooks replied that officers would be required to take a 48-hour training course through the Association of School Resource Officers—a basic course. Brooks said this course is “current” and noted there is ongoing training.
Wilson shot back at the Chief stating 48-hours versus someone who has already gone to school and spent years training in trauma and mental illness. Brooks interjected saying they were not going to get new officers, this would be senior officers on staff who have gone through training over the years on desecration, cultural awareness and other training.
“I am not one to use our police officers as mental health experts and one of the things from the 700 emails we got back in June, I heard repeatedly our police officers are not social workers,” stated Wilson who continued stating she was surprised this did not go to the school district first.
Wilson stated she would prefer looking at other solutions but could not vote for these six officers when students were asking for counselors.
During the meeting, Joy Motts was the split vote and supported a substitute Motion made by Ogorchock which would approve the grant should the Antioch Unified School District approve splitting the cost with the city.
Much like Joy Motts, it would appear that given Mike Barbanica’s history in law enforcement, he would support the grant which would make newly elected City Councilemmber Tamisha Torres-Walker the deciding vote on whether to keep the grant or to rescind it.
It is also unclear if City Clerk Ellie Householder will have to recuse herself from this item as she previously voted on this and is an active Trustee on the Antioch School Board.
City Council to Also Discuss Bridging the Gap Virtual Roundtable Discussions
The City of Antioch has hired CNA (a non-profit) who is prepping for a planned launch in 2021 to host a series of roundtable discussions to better understand racial injustice and police-community relations. After completion of this series, a set of recommendations for the city council will be shared at a future public meeting.
Roundtables will include the following topics:
- Police Oversight, Accountability, and Transparency
- Racial Disparities in policing
- Police Community Engagement.
The meetings will be limited to 75 participates (advanced registration required) in which materials will be shared prior to the gathering. Meetings will last approximately 90-minutes. Due to the Brown Act, the Mayor and City Council Members roles are proposed as observation only.
- Antioch City Council – Special Meeting
- December 15 at 5:15pm
- Agenda – click here
- Public Comments: If you wish to make a public comment, you may do so any of the following ways: (1)by filling out an online speaker card, located at https://www.antiochca.gov/speaker_card ,(2)by emailing the City Clerk prior to or during the meeting at [email protected] , or (3)by dialing(925) 776-3057 during the meeting.