Antioch mayor addresses officers' racist texts; calls for special meeting to examine APD culture

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Thursday, April 13, 2023
Antioch mayor addresses racist APD texts, calls for special meeting
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Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe addresses racist, homophobic police text messages and calls for special meeting to examine APD culture.

ANTIOCH, Calif. (KGO) -- After an emotionally charged Antioch city council meeting Tuesday night, which touched on an FBI investigation into an alleged racist and homophobic texting scandal by Antioch police officers, Mayor Lamar Thorpe is calling for change with a special meeting he has announced for next week.

For the past year, the Antioch Police Department has been under a federal and state criminal investigation for a wide range of offenses. The investigation into the texting scandal dates back to 2019. It now involves 24 officers or about 25 percent of the entire police force. Of the 24 officers, 17 of them are now out on leave.

VIDEO: Alleged Antioch PD racist texts addressed as tensions flare at city council meeting

Police Chief Steven Ford was called to speak on the FBI's investigation into the department's texting scandal at Tuesday's city council meeting and to address public safety.

"I can say to the city that we have adequate coverage. Thankfully, we have restructured our staff, our patrol division, and so there will be no gaps in service. The city is safe," Chief Ford told reporters after the meeting.

Chief Ford says his department will manage the staff shortage by putting officers on 12-hour shifts. The department hopes to add seven new recruits by the end of summer.

Still, Mayor Thorpe says change is coming. He's called for a special meeting next Tuesday to begin the process of looking into the culture of the police department.

VIDEO: Mayor wants audit of Antioch PD after judge releases officer names involved in alleged misconduct

"We are going to start with culture and specifically look at internal affairs. Our hiring and promoting practices. As well as an equity audit of the police department. And that will kind of be the first step in delving into the culture," explains Thorpe.

Emotions ran high at Tuesday's meeting. At one point, Mayor Thorpe stood up and challenged a public speaker. The mayor was criticized for his threatening outburst. But Thorpe says he stands by his actions.

"I wasn't going to allow him to hijack the experiences of so many residents who expressed concerns with the police department and racism. And biased policing. I was going to stand up to that. I don't care what it looked like," says Thorpe.

During a live interview on our 3 p.m. show 'Getting Answers,' the mayor used a racial slur which he later told ABC7 News he used intentionally to emphasize the impact of the word. For that reason, ABC7 News is not censoring the interview.

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