Antioch turns to service workers to help combat crime

June 12, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Antioch police are investigating two homicides within the last two days. Officers found a man dead on Horseshoe Circle Tuesday night. It appears he died of head injuries and detectives consider his death suspicious. And a 21-year-old man died after he was shot on "D" Street in Downtown Antioch just before 12:30 a.m. Wednesday.

This latest violence comes as Antioch is facing a critical shortage of police officers, but on Wednesday the city's police chief used social media to reassure residents that police are doing everything possible to keep them safe.

Antioch police admit they're outnumbered on the streets.

"They bashed in this window," said Antioch resident Andrea Fredenburg. She explained to us she had car broken into and says crime in Antioch is out of control, and there aren't enough police officers.

"If I call 911 and say, 'Hey, this is what's going on,' they'll say, 'We'll be right there,' and I've had to call three or four times going, 'Well, what's going on?'" said Fredenburg.

On Wednesday, the police chief posted on the department's Facebook page that he's quickly trying to hire 25 officers to meet the city's authorized force of 102.

"We can't do it alone, and we look upon Neighborhood Watch groups and in this case, we're reaching out to all the resources available," said Antioch Lt. John Vanderklugt.

Thinking out of the box, the department has trained city sanitation crews to be their eyes and ears.

"We see a lot," said Daniel Zendejas from Republic Services.

Now Zendejas and 24 other sanitation workers are using cellphone cameras and calling police dispatch if they see anything suspicious or anyone in distress.

"I've come across a young girl that got raped," said Zendejas.

But they're taught not to intervene. Each driver was given a special card to remind them what to look for and who to call.

"There's other things that we're looking at for code enforcement, ordinance-type stuff, abandoned vehicles, I mean you name it. We're just another set of eyes out there that can turn it in to the city," said Tim Argenti, the Republic Services general manager.

In July, the sanitation and postal workers will also receive CPR training. They are resources that have always been available, but never tapped -- until now.


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