Cantando, 45, has been with the Antioch Police Department since July 14, 1987 and was named acting chief after Jim Hyde retired on Dec. 16. Since then, residents speaking at City Council meetings have expressed their support for Cantando to be promoted to chief.
“I’m honored,” Cantando said. “I have a lot of work ahead of me. The city has a lot of crime challenges that we’re working with. But I have a wonderful department of people that work very hard and support me, and I have a community that is working with me to combat crime issues.”
Since taking over in December, Cantando has made part-one – violent and property – crimes a priority. He recently announced that through the first five months of the year, violent crime is down 19.1 percent compared to January through May of 2010.
The department recently launched an online non-emergency crime reporting system on which residents can report incidents such as theft and graffiti. Lt. Scott Willerford estimated that this has saved roughly $4,600 of officers’ time through the first three weeks of June.
Under Cantando’s watch, the department has also become more high-tech, launching Facebook and Twitter pages as a way to connect with the public through social media.
City Manager Jim Jakel, who announced Cantando’s permanent status at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, said it felt natural for Antioch to fill the vacant chief position internally. Jakel was impressed with the way Cantando took control of the department after Hyde’s retirement. In his nearly 24 years as an Antioch cop, Cantando has worn many hats.
“He’s served in virtually every capacity within the department,” Jakel said. “To elevate one of our own to the position is recognition of the quality we have within our own ranks. Cantando will do an outstanding job leading the department.”
The new chief is one of the most decorated members of the department. In addition to owning a master’s degree in public administration, he’s a graduate of the FBI National Academy and of the Senior Management Institute for Police, and one of the founding members of the city’s Police Activities League, where cops and kids bond through sports.
“I feel very pleased that I’ve been able to promote through the ranks, but I didn’t get there by myself,” Cantando said. “I got there through great mentors in the department and I put in a lot of hard work.”