ANTIOCH, Calif. (KGO) -- On Friday, a Contra Costa County judge released the names of 17 Antioch police officers accused of misconduct. Mayor Lamar Thorpe says the problem owes to the culture of the Antioch Police Department.
"While I am outrage by all of this -- every resident should be outraged by this -- I am more concerned and more irritated at the fact that our command staff somehow didn't know about this," says Thorpe. "There is systemic failure in leadership here."
Mayor Thorpe issued a video Saturday morning calling for independent audit of the police department's internal affairs process, including examining all complaints from over the past eight years.
"The culture at the Antioch Police Department is a problem and has long been a huge legal and financial liability for the city," the mayor said in the video.
He also wants a review of the hiring and promotions process to eliminate what he called "racial policy in both practice and behavior."
The Antioch Police Department has been under a federal and state criminal investigation for the past year over a broad range of offenses, including alleged fraud, bribery and excessive use of force.
In statement released Friday, the Contra Costa District Attorney's office says that the investigation uncovered that police officers "exchanged text messages, which contain unambiguously and historically racist speech directed toward the suspects the officers were investigating."
"At least 20% of the department is on leave for misconduct! So, the mayor is 100% right. There is a cultural problem here," says attorney Ben Nisenbaum. He is representing the family of Angelo Quinto, who filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Antioch Police Department.
He believes it's important that officers names were released so there can be accountability -- especially since one of the officers named is said to be president of Antioch's police union.
"Its own union head is involved in sending text messages that are blatantly racist? It means that the entire department requires a major overhaul," Nisenbaum said.
The Antioch Police Department did not return request for comment.
Attorney Michael Rains, who representing the officers, says he hasn't seen the text messages yet, so he can't comment on the case.
But in email to ABC7 News, he writes: "I know the Police Chief insisted that the City hire an 'outside' investigator as soon as possible to commence a thorough and objective investigation into this matter."
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