On Thursday, the Antioch Police Department announced it was one of 10 National Public Safety Sites that will work with the Department of Justice, local agencies and community organizations to reduce violence in areas with elevated crime rates.
The announcement came after then Antioch Police Captain Tony Morefield, now interim Police Chief, applied more than a year ago for the program. Thursday, he made the formal announcement highlighting the departments commitment to develop and modernize approaches to better serve the community.
The partnership will provide the Antioch Police Department with intensive training and technical assistance in developing community-led violence intervention strategies in the areas of gun violence, criminal justice, crime analysis, and more.
Interim Police Chief Morefield said he sought out the partnership over a year ago called it exciting that the department can work with the DOJ and tap its resources.
“Crime prevention and community based solutions have a great potential to reduce crime and improve the quality of life for all Antioch residents. By increasing collaboration with our federal, state, local and community partners, we hope to increase our public’s access to justice and better support crime victims in this city,” said Morefield. “We are determined to focus our efforts on reducing gun violence, and recognize that evolved policing includes 21st century tools, and resources.”
He explained that the DOJ will be working with Antioch Police to access and audit existing policy, develop and modernize approaches to better serve the community.
“The additional training and assistance from the National Public Safety Partnership will help us gain better insight in the unique crime challenges we face, define best practices for addressing gun violence and the necessary resources for putting these ideas into action,” explained Morefield who said the department is committed to strategies that strengthen community ties and focus on prevention.
Thorpe stated as mayor, he announced the largest police reform effort in the city of Antioch which included increasing transparency and accountability, establishment of a mental health crisis response team, to banning certain police techniques that could result in positional asphyxiation which most were passed unanimously by the city council.
He also stated police reform efforts across the bay area of subsided, Antioch would not.
“In the City of Antioch, we are not taking our foot off the pedal, we are going to continue with these reform efforts as long as I am mayor of Antioch,” said Thorpe. “Today, I am happy to announce another major step in the city of Antioch efforts to implement police reform and improve police presence in our city. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that the community can only thrive where there are substantial resources to protect community members as intended.”
Thorpe noted that recently the city had asked the Department of Justice to support the Antioch Police Department to assist the department in meeting the demands of the city.“It is critical that the city of Antioch aligns itself with the programs that support the well being of the community while improving the relationship of the police department and all of the people it serves and to gain trust of all the people of Antioch,” said Thorpe. “Law enforcement must be willing to overcome its obstacles and show they are committed to change for the good of all of us.”
Thorpe called the “new collaboration” between Antioch Police and the Department of Justice “a bold gesture” that signifies to him a commitment to change by the police department which will help reduce crime rates.
Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson and Councilmember Lori Ogorochock were in attendance at the press conference along with the group Moms Demand Action.
For the original press release on the announcement from the DOJ on October 6, click here.