ANTIOCH, Calif. (KGO) -- California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced Wednesday that the state is launching a civil rights investigation into the Antioch Police Department for alleged racist texts between officers and civil rights violations by officers.
Bonta says they will look into claims of excessive force by Antioch officers with an impact on communities of color, as well as the use of police canines in the city. Also, the alleged racist texts between officers will be part of the investigation.
Bonta said, "Public safety is built on trust." But he said there may have been a breach of trust in Antioch.
The goal is to enforce corrective action if violations are discovered.
Right now, 38 of 99 Antioch officers are on leave in connection with the allegations.
The DOJ investigation is separate from the criminal investigations by the FBI and the local DA's office.
Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe issued the following statement:
"On behalf of the city of Antioch, I would like to thank the Attorney General for launching a critically needed civil rights investigation of the Antioch Police Department.
The racism within the Antioch Police Department is rooted deeply within the culture, as it is one that has unfortunately protected and rewarded racism.
Contrary to the narrative the police department is seeking to tell, it is not a normal day at the Antioch Police Department. This issue will not, and should not, quietly go away. Instead, it needs leadership willing to make the necessary decisions to fully rid the department of the vile culture of racism that has historically engulfed it.
For that reason, I am again asking Chief Steve Ford, to immediately terminate the officers that were identified by the FBI and Contra Costa District Attorney as the authors of the racist texts. Anything less than termination is a clear sign that the police department is not serious about real reforms."
The Antioch Police Department released a statement in wake of the attorney general's announcement saying it welcomes the investigation and pledges full cooperation.
Department officials also announced a new initiative called the "Trust Building Campaign" where the agency will implement 25 key policies which include bias-free policing, increased transparency, participation in the National Use of Force database and more.
"We are excited to announce this partnership with the IACP Trust Building Campaign. This initiative aligns with our Strategic Plan goals that we have been progressively implementing during our Public Safety Partnership and emphasizes our commitment to advancing public safety practices through community engagement, transparency, and bias-free policing. We look forward to collaborating with our community stakeholders, justice partners, and industry experts to ensure success in meeting the goals of this campaign," said Chief Ford.
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