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

ByAnser Hassan KGO logo
Friday, May 12, 2023
Antioch PD chief responds to CA DOJ's investigation into dept.
Antioch Police Chief Steven Ford says he is "relieved" the California Department of Justice is launching its own investigation into APD.

ANTIOCH, Calif. (KGO) -- A year into an ongoing FBI investigation of the Antioch Police Department, the California Department of Justice is now launching an investigation of its own.

"We have seen data that shows spikes in excessive force in the Antioch Police Department, more than other local police departments nearby and in the region," said California State Attorney General Rob Bonta at a press conference on Wednesday.

Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe says the city received an official letter on Thursday from Bonta regarding the investigation.

Antioch Police Chief Steven Ford says his department is getting ready.

"I was actually somewhat relieved, to be honest with you, because I know the value that they bring. And I know they will give us some structure and some framework to work within to move us forward," explains Chief Ford.

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Bonta says this investigation into the Antioch PD comes after multiple complaints of "habitual" and "consistent" violations of civil rights. Then came the texting scandal, which the Contra Costa County Public Defenders Office believes may involve up to 40% of the police force.

"Those texts are hard to read. They are racist, homophobic, misogynist, and they aren't just comments related to unofficial duties. Thy are directly related to official duties, including the use of force," says Bonta.

Chief Ford says the investigation will likely include a deep dive into internal systems and structures, the department's use of force policy, level of supervision in certain situations and accountability.

Ford says he had a conversation with California Department of Justice on Wednesday. In the coming weeks, he and his command staff will map out the process for the investigation.

He has also sent out an email to the rank and file so they understand what to expect.

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"They are the change agents of what's forth coming. They are going to be the practitioners of the new framework that we have forthcoming," says Ford.

Mayor Thorpe says the investigation is critically important given the magnitude of the situation. He believes in the long-run, the city will be better off.

"It can't just be a certain segment of the white community that feels that they can have a relationship with the police department," says Thorpe. "Everybody has the right to feel comfortable with their police department, particularly since everybody pays their fair share of taxes here to pay for the police department."

"This fight for civil rights and the fight for injustice for African Americans, especially at the hands of police, has been over decades," says Kimberly Payton, first VP of the East County branch of the NAACP, which includes Antioch.

She says they welcome the investigation, adding that change takes time. And that each investigation like this one can be another step towards that goal.

"Not only to unite the community, but to build trust again. And to prevent this from happening if possible," says Payton.

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