On Monday, Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe held a press conference to unveil police reform proposals that he will be bringing forward to the city council in March.
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.
Thorpe Makes False Claims on Body Cameras
During the press conference, Thorpe claims the body camera issue has not been brought up since 2017 when this was brought as an informational item and more time was requested. This is true, however, it has also come up several times after.
He then claimed they have never came back to talk about it and blamed the previous mayor for never bringing it back. However, the issue has been brought up in budget study sessions on at least two occasions which the council opted not to move forward. It was also brought back last year when the council was discussing one-time money spending. The Antioch city Attorney recommended the body cameras, however, the council opted to direct the money to youth services and homeless issues.