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Antioch city councilmember calls for increased police staff

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ANTIOCH, Calif. (KRON) – An Antioch city councilmember says the city needs to do something about the staffing issues within the police department. He says there are not enough officers to keep the city safe.

Mike Barbanica says he has been monitoring the staffing level within the police department for the past 4-5 months, and now the number of officers has gotten so low, he feels the council needs to intervene.

A sideshow in the Antioch marina parking lot – just about a block from the police department – sent one car into a river, damaged a water main, and smashed a fire hydrant. City councilmember Mike Barbanica says there is a void in the police department that is resulting in incidents like this one.

“I’m told right now we have approximately 31 officers, including supervisors, to cover seven beats on a 24-7-365 operation and it is of my opinion that that is not enough officers for coverage,” Barbanica said.

Barbanica used to be a police lieutenant who handled scheduling for his department. He says 31 officers is not enough and the department needs outside help.

“My thought at this point is that the city also looks at bringing in the California Highway Patrol to supplement traffic enforcement,” he said. 

And he doesn’t just want CHP’s help with traffic, he wants the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office’s help with calls for service. He had an unrelated meeting with the sheriff recently, and the police’s staffing levels came up.

“He told me that the sheriff’s department would certainly be available to assist and we can talk further as far as through city channels,” Barbanica said. 

He says he’s heard from community members that they’re concerned, and he thinks they should be. The Antioch Police Department has already had to pull officers from its traffic division, and with only 31 officers, almost all of them will be forced to work overtime.

“It’s a matter of time before fatigue sets in, and we have a responsibility to this community to make sure it’s policed properly,” he said. 

The councilmember says the entire council would have to take action to request assistance from CHP or the sheriff’s department. He says he wants this issue to go to the council as soon as possible, either at the next scheduled meeting or a special meeting.

If Antioch does get help from the CHP, it would become the third Bay Area city to be working with the state agency. CHP has been in San Francisco for the past three months responding to the city’s fentanyl crisis, and the governor recently approved Oakland’s request for CHP officers to help with violent crimes.

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