High school students drill Antioch police chief on policies, reform at youth forum

ByAnser Hassan KGO logo
Friday, May 19, 2023
High School students drill Antioch police chief at youth forum
High school students drilled Antioch Police Chief Steven Ford on policies and reform at a youth forum Wednesday.

ANTIOCH, Calif. (KGO) -- There are many questions to emerge following the racist texting scandal at the Antioch Police Department. Wednesday night, students got to ask their questions to Police Chief Steven Ford.

"How do we know that we can trust you?" said one of the students of Chief Ford.

"The bigger question is, how do you know that you can't? Or, I will put it this way, are there any indicators since I have been here that you can't?" responded Chief Ford. "Because we are doing things that are a whole lot different, that have never taken place in this organization."

Billed as "Pizza With the Chief," it was held at Genesis Church in Antioch. The youth forum with high school students is a series of community meetings to be held following the investigation into the texting scandal.

RELATED: 'Move us forward': Antioch police chief responds to CA DOJ's investigation into department

"Who is holding mean, racist and abusive cops accountable?" said another student.

The chief responded: "I can tell you that, me, as the chief of police, as the arbiter of discipline in the Antioch PD, that's my role. That's my job."

"It was really moving for me to hear from our young people. These are very insightful young people," Ford said.

He says community engagement will be critical in moving his department forward and building trust, especially with young people

RELATED: I-Team obtains cellphone video at center of Antioch police excessive force lawsuit

"I said, 'You are going to be the change makers.' If change is going to happen anywhere, at any juncture, that is always a young person's game," he said.

"I believe that with time he could make some good changes. He sounds like a good man," said Anyri Frink, a high school freshman.

Frink says she is walking away with a better understanding of the system, but still doesn't feel that she -- or others -- got all the answers they wanted.

"Like we want to know, what is actually going to happen to prevent this situation from ever happening again? And they really couldn't guarantee us that that wouldn't happen, which is scary," Frink said.

RELATED: 40% of Antioch police force likely involved in alleged racist texting scandal, public defender says

The students also came up with possible policies -- procedures and outcomes for the police department -- that they presented to the chief.

"All officers on duty should only have phones provided for work use only, which shall be checked and turned at the end of every shift," read one student, as part of proposed policies.

High school junior Christian Taylor says he has a lot of respect for the chief for showing up. His takeaway is that it will take more than just the chief to fix the problems.

"Policing has been around for far longer than he has been. And it's been this way since the beginning of policing. I think it'll take a lot more than just one police chief to change it," Taylor said.

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