On Monday, Antioch residents will be treated to yet another Mayor Lamar Thorpe press conference as he will release a plan to address Sycamore Square in the City of Antioch.
In another “all about me” grandstanding segment, we will hear several proposals from Thorpe who will announce a crime prevention package, taking youth off the streets while providing them with employment and placing the store front owners on “notice” by preparing to call the site a “public nuisance”.
Sadly, TV media will likely fall for his shenanigans once again and showcase him across Bay Area TV screens when in reality he is piggybacking off the work of councilemmbers Tamisha Torres-Walker and Mike Barbanica who already put out videos with their plans which got no play aside from this publication and the Antioch Herald.
Both plans were reasonable and could be a starting point to actually making something happen to improve not only Sycamore corridor, but the entire community.
Say what you will about Torres-Walker, but her two videos last week calling for four more officers in the Sycamore corridor were raw, emotional and from the heart—ultimately, she was spot on in calling for the hiring of four more officers.
Although the videos are now deleted, she does deserve credit for going down to Sycamore, talking with the owners, residents and even spending several hours with the Antioch Police Department in conversation—she put in the work, she got uncomfortable and from what I was told asked some very tough questions. In this case, she showed leadership in requesting more officers even if everything inside of her was saying otherwise.
For Barbanica, same thing.
His plan called for 2.5% increase in the police department each year until they reach approximately 170 officers – or the state standard of 1.48 officers per 1,000 residents. It may not be feasible without some major adjustments to the budget, but it’s a starting point. Perhaps instead of 170 officers, they work towards 150-officers over the next several years.
Both indicated they would make proposals at the July 27th council meeting.
It’s both stunning and showcases the mayors ego that he would come out a day before the council meeting to put out his own proposal while ignoring his fellow councilmembers – another example of it being all about him and not working well with others.
And from what I have been told, the Mayor has not had a single conversation about Sycamore Corridor with Antioch Police officers while he was there last week—at least Torres-Walker did engage with the police before making her proposal.
Here is Thorpe’s Full Statement:
Sycamore Square… ripe for opportunity but for over 3 decades has been riddled with drug activity that spirals into violence. I spent this week visiting with the property owner, store front owners, residents, and yes the people involved in illicit activities about the challenges surrounding this little strip mall.
On Monday at 11 am (in the parking lot), I’ll be holding a press conference unveiling a crime prevention package focused on taking youth off Antioch’s streets by providing them with employment.
I’ll also be putting the property and store front owners on notice, I’m prepared to declare this site a public nuisance and require owners to take the necessary steps to mitigate issues that make it easy for criminal activity to occur on private property.
Additionally, I’ll discuss additional police overtime for proactive enforcement, a partnership with Contra Costa County Probation Department and more.
There is a lot to unpack here, but its rather ironic that Thorpe, who has sat on the city council for four years and now mayor since December, issues a statement on Sycamore after two council members issue statements. Was he asleep at the wheel for the past 5 years? Did this issue suddenly come up? No.
For starters, you don’t blame the business owners for a decades old problem and you especially don’t threaten them by declaring the site a public nuisance when the city has several other locations in the same boat—such as Cavallo and E 18th and Sommersville areas. Instead, you work with them. You come up with a plan as a council and with department heads within the city. You guy buy in from community stakeholders such as residents and the business owners—yes, the property owner will have to step up as well.
You don’t make grandiose statements just to make them. You need meat and potatoes with it and actual goals with accountability.
This is not going to be an overnight fix, a few months or even a year. Its going to take a lot of time, effort and resources. This issue is much bigger than Antioch from Prop 47, AB 109 to zero bail (catch and release) and state laws that make it easier on the criminals to avoid jail time. And that is not even including the elephant in the room that this is a social economic issue.
So when I hear the mayor claim police overtime, he is fooling everyone and kidding himself.
For a detail like he may be proposing, officers would have to utilize their days off to come in for overtime, not work a 10-hour shift and go out for a few more hours. Sure, the money may be great and officers can take advantage of that in the short term, but then you have officers working for money rather than community investment—that is what I call a Band-Aid approach.
Unlike Walkers plan, who called for four new officers specifically for Sycamore Corridor, they can focus on relationship building, community policing, create programs and over time it should reduce crime and revitalize that shopping center with less riffraff. She got it right!
Thorpe is seeking high profile patrols in a community that is anti-police which will likely result in high-profile confrontations which may result in excessive use of force complaints. Basically, he is asking for trouble with this approach even though the Antioch Police Department has conducted proactive details for years in this neighborhood.
One has to question if this is truly aimed at beginning to solve a problem, or the launch of a much larger campaign to create a bigger problem and arbitrarily use the Sycamore Corridor as a way to put police officers in the news to fit his anti-police narrative to further push policy down the road—perhaps to get him enough “street cred” for higher elected office.
Ironically, this new press conference is the exact opposite he has preached for months as he rammed down his police reform policy. Now we are going backwards. More police presence and less community policing?
This yo-yo mentality he has showcases he is in over his head and people should begin to see this. How can one blast the police department for the past year only to now need them to address a problem area in the city? This guy is unbelievable.
Ultimately, by announcing the press conference instead of a plan, highlights a Mayor who is not serious about getting to the root of the problem. He is more focused on putting his name out there, passing the buck all while TV media will placate to him as a new media darling.
The residents of Antioch should not be fooled by this media play by Thorpe any longer, his undermining of his fellow councilmembers and power trip. I encourage the community to stay on point with the issues and begin seeking accountability, asking tough questions and participate in your local government at all levels by working on solutions, not being obstructionists.
Thorpe has gotten away with too much for too long with a loud minority running the show and grandstanding during council meetings. The silent majority now must get involved and take back its community from this incompetent leadership.
The community needs to begin getting involved at some point, lets hope it begins during Tuesdays meeting.
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