On Tuesday, the Antioch City Council will receive its final report for the Bridging the Gap Virtual Roundtable Discussions. The goal was to increase understanding of how to address racial injustice and improve police-community relations.
The Roundtable discussions came about in the police reform movement in the wake of the George Floyd death in Minneapolis where some Antioch residents voiced concerns. The city, via way of a 3-2 council vote, hired the firm CNA to facilitate three community meetings to organize and facilitate the discussions and to make recommendations for the city of Antioch and Antioch Police Department.
The three forums included:
- Dialogue 1: Police Oversight, Accountability, and Transparency
- Dialogue 2: Racial Disparities in Policing
- Dialogue 3: Police-Community Engagement
The forums were to be used to assist the city council in police reform policies the community desired. However, none of the forums were a deep dive into the Antioch Police Department and neither the police department nor city council could participate, only observe.
(Editors note – to date, the city council has not been provided a deep dive into the Antioch Police Department or the community been allowed to receive a formal report from the police chief regarding police reform)
According to the CNA Report, just 114 people attended between all three forums (less than 1/10 of 1% of residents within the City of Antioch). It should be noted, of the 114 attendees, some attended multiple forums so it’s unclear how many “different” people actually attended—just 63 surveys returned.
Of the 63 surveys returned, results were mixed with most respondents indicating they were either in favor of police reform or felt that no reform was necessary.
Here are the summarized recommendations:
Community Input & Outreach
- Increase opportunities for a diverse range of community members to review and provide input on new and revised policies, procedures, and training programs, and consider leveraging the Police Crime Prevention Commission for this purpose.
- Conduct greater outreach to marginalized groups in the community including Latinos, non-English speakers, and residents of North Antioch, and establish permanent communication processes to ensure the entire Antioch community is consulted regularly on policing issues.
- Hold listening sessions for youth and their parents to learn more about their perceptions of the police so that youth engagement can be tailored to their issues and needs.
- Hold additional, regular public dialogues where community members can more directly discuss policing issues with City and police leaders and can hear each others perspectives
Police Oversight, Accountability & Transparency
- Move forward with obtaining body worn camera (BWC) technology and create a community advisory committee to gather input and feedback on BWC policy issues
- Research, seek community input, and develop and implement a civilian oversight program.
- Increase community engagement and share more information publicly, such as crime and arrests, police use of force, complaint outcomes, officer discipline, and community engagement actions and activities.
- Embrace a culture of transparency when serious incidents occur involving alleged police misconduct or in-custody deaths, informing citizens swiftly and openly about the incident.
Racial Disparities in Policing
- Provide enhanced implicit bias training to all sworn personnel to help address disparities in police outcomes
- Enhance training of sworn personnel with additional focus on cultural awareness and sensitive for racial and ethnic groupings residing in Antioch
- Engage an outside part to conduct a racial bias audit of APD police practices and recommend solutions based on audit findings.
- Place greater emphasis on community policing practices with more officers involved on foot and bike patrols and seeking other ways to expand community contacts, especially with young people.
- Develop and updated recruitment strategy that specifically addresses the need to hire more African Americans, and officers that speak Spanish to better connect with diverse community members.
- Create a community engagement strategy for each police district that requires patrol officers to regularly interact with neighborhood residents, faith leaders, youth and other key stakeholders and tailor strategies to the issues and needs of community members in the District.
- Include the building of skills necessary to support community engagement such as procedural justice, implicit bias, social interaction and communication, conflict resolution, and appropriate engagement with youth based on the science of adolescent brain development as part of police training.
- Track and document each officer’s non-enforcement contacts with the community and use this information as part of their performance evaluation considerations and increase buy-in from officers about this patrol activity to ensure that officers are interacting with the community in a positive way.
- Build trust between youth and police by creating programs and projects for positive, consistent, and persistent interaction between youth and police with specific emphasis on at-risk youth engagement.
- Research and consider different types of models for responding to people in crisis and implement the most appropriate model that includes collaboration with community organizations and service agencies, recognize that when community non-profits proliferate, that community is generally safer.
- Gather community input on a regular basis, seek community input on new policies and producers such as the implementation of body worn cameras; and consider leveraging Police Crime Prevention Commission for this purpose.
Conclusion (per the report on Page 765 of Staff Report)
The Bridging the Gap sessions were an admirable first step, but only a first step, towards greater community participation in determining what policing in Antioch looks like. The Antioch City council is moving quickly, holding a seven hour meeting on February 26, 2021 with community participation in which proposed reforms were discussed. The report provides a thorough accounting of diverse perceptions regarding police and police reform in Antioch, based on three purposefully planned and executed community listening sessions. It provides a guidepost to policymakers in Antioch, by identifying a number of significant reforms in policing that the community identified as important and that have firm basis in research and practice.
Generally speaking, Chief Brooks is well liked by community members and is seen as progressive and professional. It is also true that some people do not believe any police reform is necessary in Antioch while others feel there is need for significant change. The bottom line is participants enjoyed and took advantage of that experience by voicing their perspectives on important community issues and influencing city discussion. The community wants to have a dialogue with police and city leaders, regardless of their orientation to reform. Antioch should move quickly with police reform efforts, taking into consideration the recommendations in this report as well as other efforts, and continue to engage the community in public and significant ways such as Bridging the Gap dialogues.
Prior to the completion of the Bridging the Gap Series and the report out, Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe released his own police reform plan and several actions have already occurred:
- Jan 19: First Bridging the Gap Session (Police Oversight, Accountability, and Transparency)
- Feb 6: Second Bridging the Gap Session (Racial Disparities in Policing)
- Feb 18: Third Bridging the Gap Session (Police-Community Engagement)
- Feb 22: Antioch Mayor Unveils Police Reform Proposals (announcement)
- Feb 26: Antioch City Council Set for Special Meeting to Discuss Police Reform (agenda)
- Feb 26: Antioch City Council Moves Forward With Police Reform Measures (7 hour meeting recap)
- March 9: Antioch City Council Unanimously Approves Police Worn Body Cameras
- March 23: Report Out from the Bridging the Gap Series scheduled for City Council Meeting
At no point, has the Antioch Police Department been provided an opportunity to provide an overview of the department to the public–Chief Tammany Brooks and staff have only answered questions by the council. Meanwhile the city has been provided feedback of just just 0.00054% of residents (115,000) with only 63 survey’s completed–of that, we do not know if there are any duplicates by attendees or who participated in multiple sessions.
Much like a Grand Jury Report, it would be prudent for the Mayor and City Council to let the Police Department respond to each recommendation provided by CNA to help educate the community of what is already being done and how it can be better improved through more discussions and greater participation/understanding. Remember, the police department has been muzzled in this entire process. I am sure many would like to hear what they have to say on the recommendations.
After the police department provides a report, get more community feedback and from there, implement desired changes. Police reform is not bad and we should have an open mind because some of these recommendations are good, however, getting policy right from the start is more important than the speed in which it is done.
Antioch City Council Meeting
- Tuesday, March 23, 2021
- 7:00 PM
- Agenda: https://www.antiochca.gov/fc/government/agendas/CityCouncil/2021/agendas/032321/032321.pdf
- Speaker Cards: If you wish to provide a written public comment, you may do so any of the following ways by 3:30 p.m. the day of the Council Meeting: