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The Antioch police department will partner with the Department of Justice to develop police reform strategies in an effort to make local residents feel safer.

The partnership was announced during a joint press conference held by Mayor Lamar Thorpe and interim Police Chief Tony Morefield on Oct. 21 that was livestreamed on the mayor’s Facebook page.

“Earlier this year, I announced the largest police reform effort in the city of Antioch’s history,” Thorpe said during the conference. “While police reform efforts throughout the Bay Area have largely subsided, in the city of Antioch we’re not taking our foot off of the pedal. We’re going to continue with these reform efforts as long as I’m the mayor of the city of Antioch.”

The Antioch City Council has explored potential reform in the past, including a vote at its Aug. 24 meeting to partner with law enforcement and the police oversight committee in developing a policy that protects people from physical restraints or other maneuvers that could lead to potential asphyxia. The movement was in response to the death of Antioch resident Angelo Quinto the previous December after Quinto was restrained during a mental health crisis.

“Crime prevention and community-based solutions have a great potential to reduce crime and improve the quality of life for all of Antioch’s residents,” Morefield said. “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.”

Antioch is one of only 10 cities nationwide and the only one in California selected to participate in the Department of Justice’s 2021 National Public Safety Partnership, a program designed to provide training and resources to local law enforcement agencies while assessing the needs of the specific community to find the best strategies to address violent crime, according to its website. The partnership began in 2014 as the Violence Reduction Network and included Oakland as part of the pilot program before rolling out the current model in 2017. Cities that participate agree to a three-year commitment that includes an annual summit on violent crime and an audit of existing department policies to develop and modernize approaches to better serve the community..

Michelle Sinnotte, a member of the Antioch Community Violence Task Force and advocate with Moms Demand Action, also spoke at the event of the importance of curbing gun violence. Moms Demand Action is a national grassroots organization that advocates for public safety measures to prevent gun violence. Sinnotte’s comments echoed those of Morefield, who promised a focus on the reduction of gun violence as part of the partnership with the Department of Justice, and those of Thorpe, who spoke of the importance of community partnerships.

“It is critical,” Thorpe said, “that the city of Antioch aligns itself with programs that support the wellbeing of our community while improving the relationship between the police department and all of the people it serves.”

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