On Friday, the Antioch City Council will host a special council meeting to discuss police reform beginning at 5:00 pm. This comes after Mayor Lamar Thorpe called the meeting during a press conference after an in-custody death.
According to the agenda, the council will tackle the following items:
- Mental Health Crisis Response
- Officer Training Enhancements/Modules
- Demilitarization Efforts
- Increased Accountability and Transparency, including body worn and in vehicle cameras
- Establishing independent review of on duty police officer complaints
- Police hiring and screening practices
- Notification protocols for major incidents
- Resolution implementing a policy for the city, including all departments, regarding the selection of Attorney’s providing contract services, and the review, authorization and execution of all agreements and legal services and servers to be provided by attorney’s to the city – Staff Report
- Fill out an online speaker card by 3:00 p.m. the day of the Council Meeting located at: https://www.antiochca.gov/speaker_card.
- Email comments to [email protected] by 3:00 p.m. the day of the Council Meeting. The comment will be read into the record at the meeting (350 words maximum, up to 3 minutes, at the discretion of the Mayor).
Councilmember Torres-Walker announced Support for Police Reform Ahead of meeting
In a possible Brown Act Violation, Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker issued a Press Release issued Feb 25, 2021 where she stated Antioch in need of significant and immediate police reform with true community oversight and discussed body cameras ahead of the meeting.
“I know in my years of transforming law enforcement, it is not easy. It does begin with accountability. I want residents to know that you have my commitment to uncovering and remedying the conditions at the department that have led to a culture of excessive use of force, where our own community members’ lives have been lost and many others have been harmed,” stated Torres-Walker. “Residents of Antioch deserve this change and deserve it now.”
During Wednesday press conference, Thorpe issued the following statement:
I was informed by the chief of police that an individual they were seeking to detain passed away. Although the facts are still being gathered per our procedures, the chief of police requested that the Contra Costa County District Attorney office lead all criminal investigatory efforts regarding this matter. In addition, a separate independent investigation is underway to determine if any of our policies were violated during this encounter,” stated Thorpe. “As mayor, I want to express my deepest condolences to the family of the deceased and pray that they have some level of comfort during this loss and extreme pain. I recognize they will not be able to achieve any comfort and peace until they have the answers that they need as it relates to their loved one. I want the residents to know that they will be provided answers because of the thorough investigation by the District Attorneys Office. Furthermore, in the event concludes that their was any negligence, we will seek the fullest effort to assure there is accountability.”
Thorpe stated as someone who served in the Navy, he has always had a respect for law enforcement and believed officers entered the profession to serve.
“We also cannot ignore the fact that there are critical reforms that are needed in the profession as a whole nationwide. For that reason, I am going to expedite the police reform measure that I talked about earlier this week, I will be calling for a special meeting this Friday at 5:00 pm where we will go through all those reforms to start deciding whether the council will move forward with those efforts,” stated Thorpe.
On Monday, Thorpe also held a press conference calling for police reform.
Thorpe was joined by Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson and Con Johnson who is part of Thorpe’s transition team on police reform.
“Everyone knows that I have not been shy about the importance of reform not only locally but globally and this is a conversation that started post George Floyd and since the murder of George Floyd, as I said, a national and global awaking that has made our streets of our nation the epicenter for expression, frustration and hope including right here in Antioch,” stated Thorpe.
Thorpe highlighted because of the awakening, it made its way to US Congress, State Legislators across the country and local jurisdictions, but was saddened the conversation around “real reform” had not made its way to Antioch.
“Quite frankly, if our police department is going to do the same thing 5, 10, 20 years from now, we have all failed as a city because we have not evolved with the times including our changing demographics,” stated Thorpe. “Luckily, the voters have more foresight than those who seek to divide us based on pro and anti law enforcement rhetoric, that is all it is. Political rhetoric served to divide our community and as your leader I refuse to fall victim of that nonsense. We will not allow, to dictate how we are going to pursue police reform in our community.”
Thorpe continued stating that people recognize that reform is synonymous with progress, improvement, betterment, refinement and adaptation.
Thorpe stated today he was announcing a first step to better the police department that the community could trust.
“If looked at objectively, I am seeking to implement common sense solutions, responsible police reforms that I campaigned on and provide our police department the necessary tools to do their job that will allow our community to feel safe, respected and equally allow for officers to be seen as public servants and not an occupying force,” stated Thorpe.
Prior to announcing his police reform agenda, he acknowledged that police work was difficult and put their lives at risk daily, however, it could no longer be ignored of the structural problems in law enforcement nationally.
He called his reform measures a “framework” to begin the process to get work done.
His proposals were as stated:
- Mental Health Crisis Response Team – this would be modeled after a program in Eugene, OR. Which included psychologist and de-escalation tactics. This would include mobile crisis teams.
- Police Training – establish a paradigm that is publicly reviewed and updated annually. This includes a program around four areas: procedural justice, relationship building, implicit bias training, crisis intervention, conflict resolution/mediation, appropriate engagement with youth, LGBT, and gender non-conforming individuals, English language learners, individuals from different religious affiliations, and individuals who are differently abled and de-escalation and limiting use of force whenever possible.
- Demilitarization the Antioch Police Department: asking for an immediate ban on purchasing any military equipment from the federal, state or private enteritis. No longer accept them.
- Increase Policing Accountability: Says police body cameras and dash cameras will be brought to the council in March. Discuss the policy involving body cameras. Will be asking to independently review on-duty police officer complaints by the public by either moving that body out of the police department and into an independent body in city hall or establishing a police officer accountability department to receive and investigate and resolve civilian complaints within 12-days.
- Establish Interim City Council Committee for Police Oversight – a committee of the entire council, interim, until they establish a police oversight commission. Council would review and approve police policy, field/review/audit all police complaints, Review resolutions for police disciplinary actions, review Use of Force policy to ensure community participation in the policy.
- Improving Police Hiring Practices: Lateral candidates currently under investigation for Use of Force or any Misconduct will be disqualified from the process. If you have a sustained Excessive Use of Force Complaint or Misconduct Complaint on your records, you will be disqualified from Antioch’s process. Consider Implicit Association Test into the hiring process.
- Establish New Chief of Police Hiring Process: Calls for an open and transparent process which includes community input.
- Establish Notification System to Inform Mayor, City Council City Manager, city Attorney of when they should be notified of police incidents – no longer wants to find out about incidents on social media.
Thorpe closed by saying more would be coming out in the future as they are wrapping up the community conversations with the public.
Barbanica Informed Thorpe Sunday He Would Not Attend
During Monday’s Press Conference, Thorpe referenced Councilmember Mike Barbanica stating he was supposed to be at the event to talk about body cameras and dash cameras but had not heard from him this morning.
According to Barbanica, he informed Thorpe Sunday afternoon he would not be attending once learning this was not an event, but rather a press conference on police reform and that another councilmember would be in attendance, thus likely creating a Brown Act Violation.
“I am always open to listening to ideas that better a police department or our community, however, with two other councilemmbers present, I didn’t think it would be appropriate to have three members of the council at this press conference and it needs to be an agendasized meeting,” stated Barbanica.