Antioch Mayor Wade Harper offered support to the Antioch Police Department Wednesday after a Symposium was held on Saturday by a newly formed community group called Antioch Community Team (ACT) to discuss policing in the 21st century.
Harper said Antioch Police are reaching out to the community and that ACT has caused great confusion in the community as to whether or not police would participate in the forums.
He stated that the community should resist the temptation to judge Antioch police based upon on what happens in other states and cities.
“I encourage people to have the discussion, host forums, talk about the issues, but I encourage them to not do it as an outsider looking in. As members of the community, do it as an insider and a member of the community,” says Harper. “I would give our police department an A+ with their outreach efforts and while I encourage outside groups to have a discussion, I wish they would do so in a more positive way”
Here is a copy of his letter:
As I am reviewing the Final Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing I find that the Antioch Police Department is doing a lot of things right, while at the same time there are improvements that are currently underway, such as “police worn body cameras.” This issue of police worn body cameras was discussed at the June 28th city council meeting and has been budgeted for purchase and may be implemented within the next 6 months to 1 year.
On Saturday I attended a Symposium held at Delta Bay Church of Christ with a newly formed community group, Antioch Community Team (ACT) whose desire is to Build Bridges and Tear Down Walls. According to the flyer the theme of the event was “A Symposium Looking at Bridging the Divide and Re-imagining Police-Community Relations.” I applaud this group for their good intentions and their desire to get involved in making our city better. This is a great message.
I met with ACT and made a few helpful recommendations. I am still encouraging ACT to take my recommendations into consideration. I made a few recommendations on how they might better understand the good work the Antioch Police Department is doing in reaching out to our community.
My recommendation was that they visit a city council meeting and introduce themselves. I also recommended that they take the time to consider the many ways APD is outreaching into the community and get involved before starting their series of meetings. I believed ACT caused confusion as they erroneously posted on their flyer as fact that the Antioch Police Department would be participating in this symposium.
Chief Allan Cantando met with an ACT member privately and share that he would not be participating in the September forum but committed to a later forum. ACT for whatever reason did not remove APD from the flyer and raised questions as to why APD was a no show. Lawrence Rasheed who was the facilitator stated, “I’m not sure why APD is not here, but I’m not going to speculate.”
As an African American male who served 24 years in law enforcement I have a good understanding regarding tension between the police and the community in general. I used my training and experience to teach the subject of “Racial Profiling.” My efforts assisted officers in understanding the definition of racial profiling, race relations in America, the Civil Rights Movement and how to prevent racial profiling, which is defined as using race as a predictor of criminality. While I keep abreast the occurrences in other states and local cities, I make it my job to keep abreast of what is happening in the city of Antioch.
I made a recommendation to have a skilled facilitator who would make sure the objectives are clear and the forum is clearly focused toward outcomes. The panel had a wealth of stories about incidents that occurred in other cities such as Richmond, Oakland and San Francisco. The stories mostly highlighted the panelists’ mistreatment by police in other cities.
Several of the panelist admitted that they have not been involved in the Antioch community, therefore did not have much knowledge of the Antioch community. My conclusion is that we should resist the temptation to judge Antioch police based upon on what happens in other states and cities. Could this also be a form of profiling?
The mayor and city council were not invited to participate as a panelist at this symposium. When the mayor and city council members exited the symposium we were criticized for not remaining to dialogue with the community group. I am a member of one of the most active city councils in the bay area.
While I’m certain that all of our city council members would love to participate in all of the community meetings, due to the laws regarding open meetings (Ralph Douglas Brown Act) we are prohibited from participating in these planning-type meetings with more than 2 city council members, as we would have a quorum. The Ralph M. Brown Act governs open meetings for local government bodies. This was the standing advice of our previous city attorney. The only avenue to have a dialogue with the entire city council or more than two 2 city council members in person is a properly noticed (advertised) city council meeting.
City council candidates and school board candidates also have to be mindful of open dialogues with the community where there are discussions about improving the school district. They may also come violate the Brown Act regarding open meetings. I knew I was the third councilmember to show up to the meeting, therefore I left after a few introductory remarks from the panelists before the dialogue began.
Improving communication between the community and police is always a great idea. Chief Cantando understands that creating a culture of community outreach is not a spectator sport. A culture of communication cannot be changed in a few short meetings. It takes years. It takes getting involved. Communications has to be part of the culture. Our police department has made community outreach part if its culture. Former Chief Jim Hyde made community outreach a priority. Chief Cantando continues the culture of community outreach.
While I will not attempt to analyze all of the six pillars of the president’s report, I will give the Antioch Police Department and “A” on their efforts to outreach to the community. I did not give an “A+” grade because there is always room for improvement. This is in harmony with the pillar one which states, “Law enforcement agencies should also proactively promote public trust by initiating positive non-enforcement activities to engage communities.” I challenged myself to think of ways of the Antioch Police Department has made communication and community outreach a part of its culture.
Without mentioning enforcement activities this is what I came up with:
- National Night Out
- Crime Prevention Commission
- Youth Bowling (PAL)
- PAL Golf Tournament Fundraiser
- Junior Giants Program
- Police Athletic League
- Legos and the Law
- Pizza with the Police
- Coffee with the Cops
- Monthly Neighborhood Cleanups
- Police Department’s Facebook Page
- We met as a group to Address the problems at Deer Valley Plaza over year ago.
- Food Drives
- Toy Drives
- Police Department Open House
- Prescription Drug Take-Back
- Special Olympics of Northern California Tip A Cop Program
- I have administered the Oath of Office for nearly all police officers in the last 2 years.
These events are usually attended by police staff as well as community members.
- Citizens Academy
- Fundraiser for Cancer Research
- Gun Buyback Program (Pending)
- Mobile Applications for Smartphones giving residents access giving unprecedented access to the police department
- VIP Program is operated through the police department
- Animal Services is operated through the police department.
- Paying for a Disneyland trip for a victim who was a victim of burglary
- Meetings with the NAACP
- Online Police Reports
- Beat Notifications
- APD’s website has a “CommunityEvents” link
- Members of the Antioch Police Department’s command staff serve on various volunteer organizations throughout the city of Antioch
This is evidence that our police department is listening and reaching out. Our community has the ear of our police department. As mayor I certainly meet with Chief Cantando regularly to check in.
Finally, the city of Antioch is currently operating under a Strategic Management Plan which was developed through community outreach. We had about 10 community meetings, several city council meetings and welcomed online input. This Strategic Management Plan was recently updated and is guiding our city forward. These meetings were open to the public and advertised, the agendas were properly noticed, and conducted by professional facilitators and consultants.
Recently I attended a meeting sponsored by County Supervisor Federal Glover. Chief Cantando and members of his command staff were in attendance, along with representatives of the District Attorney’s office, representatives from the Sheriff’s Department, other local Law Enforcement and pastors. We were able to discuss ways to better communicate and build trust with our communities.
So let’s continue the dialogue on ways to prevent crime, build trust, improve economic development and jobs, improve quality of life for our residents. No one person has all the answers.
Mayor of Antioch
I have absolute confidence in the Antioch Police Department and always have. I also understood Chief Cantando’s comments in regard to this event. He was not opposed to it. The only opposition I have is in regards to the current lack of leadership in this city. We need new leadership and hopefully our residents will educate themselves before voting. My neighborhood has 10 new houses for sale in one week. This is in direct relationship to the hopelessness these residents feel. They do not feel safe and have no confidence.
Yawn. Another one of Harper’s flimflam moves.
Harper didn’t print this in is own new newspaper. RJB talk about flim flam moves. The man is beyond belief. He can’t get good press so he is doing his own. OMG Bet he doesn’t print anything you and I have to say.
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