On Tuesday, the Antioch City Council discussed a proposal that would help Antioch Police Department attract both lateral and academy graduate police officers.
After an April 4 press conference where Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe proposed a $40k hiring bonus as well as a down-payment assistance program, the item was placed on the agenda for discussion.
Interim Police Chief Tony Morefield stated that previous approved incentives in December 2017 included applicants being allowed to carry over 200 hours of accrued sick leave from his/her department, previous law enforcement service seniority will be used to determine vacation accrual rate, a credit of 40 hours of vacation upon employment and a signing bonus of up to $10,000.
Mayor Thorpe stated he put out the proposal for a structured bonus incentive that they currently had, but only at a higher level. His proposal during his press conference included:
- Lateral recruits: A $40k structured signing bonus that is paid over 3-years.
- 1st $20k comes upon signing up with Antioch PD
- 2nd: $10k comes at completion of 1-year probation period
- 3rd $10k comes after completing 3-years with Antioch Police
- Academy Recruits: Same incentive as laterals
- Academy Graduates will be offered a home down payment assistance incentive for up to $60k for a home located within City of Antioch – must be used within 5-years, if not a lump sum will be paid out of $30k within 5-years.
Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica urged the council to keep the current policy the way it is even though he was all for hiring more police officers.
“Increasing that, we’re talking about a tremendous amount of money and I support bringing on more police officers and I’m willing to go along with the current incentive program but I just don’t see increasing this program that we currently have right now and spending a tremendous amount of money,” explained Barbanica. “I want people to work here because they want to be here, not because they get a signing bonus. I want people if they choose to live here, to live here because they want to, not because they are getting a signing bonus because as soon as the time period is up, they are gone. Same thing with the incentives. My personal view is keep the current policy that we have.”
Barbanica said he felt they should be focusing on the retention of current officers and build up the department and then bring in new officers.
Councilmember Tamisha Torres-Walker stated she liked what was in place in terms of the incentive program, but was unsure if she could support the mayors plan over the long-haul while noting the same concerns as Barbanica.
Thorpe interjected stating his proposal was not permanent, but rather a temporary measure.
Walker stated she would support a temporary measure.
“Given where we are at today, we have to do something and can’t pretend like everything is prefect right now because its not. We have to make every effort to ensure that we are able to attract officers,” said Thorpe.
Councilmember Monica Wilson stated she was in favor of keeping the current incentive program but would not mind looking at other incentives and comparing it to other communities or police departments.
Councilmember Lori Ogorchock stated she had some concerns.
“I’m concerned about hiring quality officers. Antioch Police has a standard of hiring quality officers and I don’t want incentives such as some of the ones given out at the mayors press conference to bring in individuals who will only stay here as Mayor pro Tem Barbanica said will stay here a short period of time and then leave,” explained Ogorchock. “I also have a concern regarding officers who have been and still are working here, they are working 12-14 hours a day working really long and hard and we are not incentivizing them to stay.”
Ogorchock urged the council to work on keeping the current officers—including CSO’s who have two more who are leaving.
“My proposal was a temporary measure, was not permanent because given the circumstances that we find ourselves in today, we gotta do something,” said Thorpe.
Thorpe asked the council if they would allow him to go back and work with the city attorney, the new police chief and captain Morefield to bring something back for consideration in the future.
Both Torres-Walker and Barbanica were in agreement to bringing back another proposal for further discussion while Ogorchock said she would support it if it included incentives for current officers.
Thorpe stated there are other places within the city, such as human resources which is depleted, they could use this policy for the police department as a model for other departments to keep employees and attract new ones.
A new proposal will come back at a future meeting.
Antioch City Council Commits to Over Hire APD by 10 Officers
Per a February 2020 resolution, the Antioch City Council approved the Antioch Police Department to over hire its police department by 6 officers. At the time, the police department was allocated staffing levels of 115 sworn officers—giving the department the ability to hire up to 121 officers.
Over hiring is not permanent and has to come back. Under a proposal by Antioch Mayor Thorpe, he called for the over hiring of Antioch Police by 10-officers. Allowing up to 125 officers.
Mayor Pro Tem Barbanica said he was in support.
Councilmember Ogorchock did not want over hiring by 10 officers, she want to hire 10 additional officers and bring police staffing levels to 125.
“I would rather instead of over hiring, I feel instead of over hiring, I would like to see them as actual employees,” said Ogorchock.
Councilwoman Torres-Walker confirmed this basically would increase the current number by 4 officers up from 121 to 125—confirming the over hire of 10 when meshed with the previous over hire approval in 2020.
Torres-Walker was okay with the over hire of 10 but asked about the fiscal impact of that.
“We can go back and figure that out and come back with a policy,” stated Thorpe.
“I would agree, I’d like to see the permanent number go up by 10 but that is going to take us going back and looking at the budget,” Barbanica said. “I support this and glad we are thinking about doing this, but hiring a police officer takes a tremendous amount of time. This isn’t going t happen tomorrow. We are talking about 25 people. That is going to be a while and takes years to accomplish… right now, this is a good measure to start.”
The item will come back at a future meeting.