Antioch, CA

Antioch City Council continues police reform

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By Ian Firstenberg

(ANTIOCH, Calif.) The Antioch City Council unanimously approved an additional three police reforms Tuesday after restricting the department's access to military hardware earlier in the year following a number of controversial and deadly interactions between citizens and police.

The reforms passed Tuesday center on hiring lateral officers, training officers and notifying the public of major events in the city. All three date back to discussions on Feb. 26 of this year when the council first began drafting ideas for wide-ranging reforms.

Angelo Quinto, a Navy veteran, died in the hospital, three days after Antioch Police restrained him in his home. In video released to the media, officers can be seen kneeling on Quinto's neck.

Quinto's death occurred in late December of 2020 but the public was not notified of the death until The East Bay Times asked for confirmation, a 33-year-old man, Arturo Gomez Calel, died while in the midst of a mental health crisis after police deployed a taser on Gomez Calel during a struggle in the street.

On April 16, Antioch police shot a man who was later hospitalized for a mental health crisis. The department did not immediately release the name of the officer who fired and, as of the most recent reports, the man was in stable condition. That incident, similar to the Quinto death, occurred when officers were called to respond to a mental health crisis.

In late February, Antioch Police Chief Tammany Brooks held a press conference in which he said that the tactics used in the Quinto case were appropriate despite the video that depicts Quinto motionless on the ground with officers on his back.

All three incidents and the subseuqent response by the department highlights its inability to adequately deescalate situations with individuals experiencing mental health issues.

Tuesday's reforms follow a recent pattern from the progressive wing of the city's legislature to combat the friction stemming from the city's changing dyanmics. Antioch, which was mostly a white working-class town until recently, saw a huge political shift in the most recent election after three Black residents won city council seats. The friction between the new political dynamic has often broken down along racial lines.

Earlier this year, when Antioch City Council approved a resolution restricting the department's ability to purchase additional military hardware, the council's two white members voted against the resolution, noting that with increased crime the police should have additional resources, while the council's three Black members voted in favor of the resolution. Mayor Lamar Thorpe, who is Black, voted in favor and the resolution passed.

Under the most recent reforms, the city would no longer be able to hire officers that are currently undergoing internal investigations for excessive use of force, sexual misconduct, dishonesty, falsification of documents and serious misconduct. These reforms would also establish a mandatory deescalation, crisis intervention and conflict resolution training.

Additionally, these recent reforms establish a policy of notifying the City Council when major events happen in the city. It's somewhat unclear what the definition of "major event" would be but Councilmember Mike Barbanica, who was a former watch commander with the department in the late 80s and early 90s noted that this is an expansion of a policy that has long been in place. Councilmember Barbanica was one of the two votes against the resolution limiting the department's access to military hardware.

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