From East County Today
On Monday, Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe held a press conference to announce a new hiring incentive that would provide hiring bonuses, down payment assistance on a home, and increase the over hiring of the Antioch Police Department in an effort to attract and retain police officers.
The move comes after the Antioch Police Department is down to 78-active officers due to injury and various officers off on administrative leave. The police department currently has 102 officers on the books and is allowed to hire up to 115 officers. Under the mayors plan, the police department could grow to 125 officers.
Thorpe explained that hiring officers was a big part of their “police reform efforts” last year and today was building on that.
“We are all familiar with the economic phenomenon known as the Great Resignation where many employees have resigned from their jobs,” stated Thorpe who explained its impact on various sectors of the economy. “Resulting in lower productively, lowering of moral and the remaining workforce struggling with increased work demands.”
He said government and hospitality continue to witness actual decline in the workforce which meant workers who leave are not being replaced or replaced fast enough which he said was attrition.
“2021 marked the highest rate of state and local job openings in the past 20-years. Which means local governments are understaffed and law enforcement is the largest group driving workforce losses through local government,” said Thorpe who cited a study stating there has been a 45% increase in retirements and 20% increase in resignations compared to other years.
“We now have another layer to this staffing crisis as a result of the District Attorney and FBI investigation of a number of officers in the City of Antioch. On March 22, DA Diana Becton and the FBI briefed myself and City Manager Con Johnson and made us aware and asked for our cooperation,” explained Thorpe. “During this briefing, I knew this would have a devastating impact on our staffing levels, internal moral and community confidence as a result of these activities.”
Thorpe stated the Antioch Police Department is currently authorized to hire 114 sworn officers. However, the Department has 102 police officers with three trainees attending the police academy which leaves the department with 10 open positions.
“These numbers can be deceiving as currently the Antioch Police Department currently has 78 full-duty sworn officers because 24 are unavailable as a result of some form of related injury of some administrative leave,” said explained Thorpe. “78 full duty sworn officers are no different than when I move here 10-years ago when my family and I came from Maryland during the great recession.”
Thorpe said he would be advancing a new hiring structure measure that provides a sign on bonus—currently the city only offers a $10,000 for lateral recruits, with nothing for those recruits in the police academy.
“There is no way we are going to be able to manage the attrition challenges,” said Thorpe.
Thorpe is proposing the following:
- Lateral recruits: A $40k structured signing bonus that is paid over 3-years.
- 1st $20k comes upon signing up with Antioch PD
- 2nd: $10k comes at completion of 1-year probation period
- 3rd $10k comes after completing 3-years with Antioch Police
- Academy Recruits: Same incentive as laterals
- Academy Graduates will be offered a home down payment assistance incentive for up to $60k for a home located within City of Antioch – must be used within 5-years, if not a lump sum will be paid out of $30k within 5-years.
Thorpe stated the higher bonus structure if for a period of 12-months upon approval of the city council and officers who receive the bonus must stay for 3-years or in some cases 5-years. If officers leave before then, officers would have to pay back to the bonus.
Thorpe further said he would be proposing that the City of Antioch over hire up to 10-officers up to 125 officers—positions would have to be tied to any direct retirements, resignations or long-term administrative leave.
Dr. Steve Ford, who is in the process of becoming the interim Antioch Police Chief, attended the press conference said that under this proposal, the Antioch Police Department has the potential to staff at 125 police officers.
“Our sole priority is to increase our sworn compliment with the sole purpose of maintaining high moral, sustaining public safety and making certain officers have the field support and coverage that they needed and that they deserve,” stated Ford.
He then spoke on an officer profile they hope to attract.
“We seek officers who desire to join a forward thinking, high performing policing organization, are team oriented and possess a high level of dedication to the profession,” explained Ford. “With this organization we emphasize concepts of community policing, procedural justice rooted in strong community engagement and transparent policing services. This organization will provide officers with a high volume of training, equipment, and personal and professional development to perform the duties while staying safe and receiving a deep sense of organization support. I emphasize we are looking for men and women from varied backgrounds and experiences who meet these characteristics and are ready to serve the city of Antioch in a positive and a very meaningful way.”
During the Q&A, Thorpe declined to answer any comments regarding the number of officers under investigation with the District Attorney and FBI. TV media challenged the mayor given how Pittsburg Police Department released a statement and highlighted three officers were under investigation.
Thorpe also confirmed that although he and City Manager Johnson met with Becton and the FBI, he has not shared that information with the rest of the city council even though they are equal members of the council. He stated the DA told him to keep it confidential. He would not stated how he was helping the investigation when challenged by media.
When asked where the funding will come from for the police officer down payments, Thorpe replied it could come from various funding sources which include salary savings, general fund or other funding. He also stated although the proposal is for 12-months, they could expend it.
He also declined to comment when asked about retention of current officers.
- For more information on the background as to why the City of Antioch only has 78-officers available, you can listen to our Friday (April 1) interview with Antioch Police Officers Association Steve Aiello.
- It should also be noted that the Antioch Police Department officers still do not have a signed contract as the City of Antioch.
- It is unknown if the Pittsburg City Council were briefed by the DA & FBI like Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe and Con Johnson.
- Per Antioch Police current Job Opening:
- The bonus/incentives will consist of the following:1. Applicant will be allowed to carry over up to 200 hours of accrued sick leave from his/her department.2. Prior law enforcement service seniority will be used to determine vacation accrual rate of the applicant.
3. Automatic credit of 40 hours vacation upon employment.
4. Signing bonus of $10,000 with payments in the following increments:
a. $2,500 – upon employment
b. $2,500 – upon successful completion of probation
c. $5,000 – upon three (3) years of service
5. Any current Antioch employee who recruits a lateral officer will receive his/her choice of $1,000 or 20 hours of Comp Time upon the lateral’s successful completion of the field training program.
- Three Antioch City Council members have asked the mayor to bring up hiring/retention of police over the past six months. He has not placed the item on the city council agenda. This includes Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica and Councilmembers Lori Ogorchock and Tamisha Torres-Walker.
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