Over the last few days, I’ve been asked is crime in the City of Antioch down as Mayor Lamar Thorpe has been claiming over the past week.
The claim: “in the last two years overall violent crime has been lower since my time as being mayor than at anytime between 2013 and 2020,” said Thorpe on February 1 at a small business grant program launch. He also touting a 25% decrease in homicides between 2022 and 2021 from 12 down to 9.
If one is going strictly off the data, the mayor is absolutely correct. So go ahead Mayor, take your bow and pat yourself on the back as we all know you like to do.
Data Isn’t Telling Full Story
Like with all data, the data does not tell the full story of what has actually transpired. And let me be clear, this is in no way meant to disrespect the men and women of the Antioch Police Department who are doing so much work with so little in terms of staffing, working with moral in the toilet and failing to be provided with appropriate equipment and tools for so long.
It is easy to claim crime is down without acknowledging that not all data is even being collected. I won’t even get into the fact that only 2% of California agencies reported to the FBI for 2021 due to the reporting system change.
But some common sense is needed here as its illogical to believe that crime goes down when you drop from 115 officers to 73 active because no one wants to work under this Antioch City Council.
Ultimately, there is just not enough officers to take reports or even respond to all calls. Hence, why you see arrests down by 1,209. You see 2,915 less police reports taken along with 6,367 less officer initiated activity. Its not because there is less crime, but rather staffing levels.
The department had also been dealing with little stability in leadership as they transitioned from Chief Tammany Brooks to Interim Chief Tony Morefield to now Chief Steve Ford. Furthermore, you have a department dealing with not only the national rhetoric, but silly city council rhetoric and councilmembers who enjoy anti-police rants while lecturing folks who believe in law and order. And then you have an open FBI investigation which information seems to only be released when the mayor needs a distraction from his own legal woes.
These micro factors alone suggest crime should actually be up. Again, the data is what the data is but as Richmond Police Chief Bisa French beautiful pointed out when you do not have staffing then not everything gets reported or responded to.
When one looks at the macro of what is going on in California then you see why crime is going down given several circumstances beyond the City of Antioch.
Lets look at a birds eye view of why Antioch Crime is actually down:
- Crime Definition Changes – the definitions of what a violent crime changed. You also have the change in what is considered a misdemeanor to felony–think theft and shoplifting to $950. Another good example of this is what is now included as rape. This all has an impact on the data.
- Antioch Police Staffing – with less cops, equal less arrests and less crime to report and less crimes filed to DA’s office.
- Catch and Release – self explanatory.
- COVID Lockdowns & Stay at home economy – self explanatory. If people are home, burglary and theft will go down. If people are not out and about, robbery also decreases. This also should result in less assaults.
- Police pushing online reporting – Richmond Police Chief Bisa French recently covered this when she explained with lower staffing levels police do not respond to certain crimes. Therefore, residents need to go online to submit the crime. She highlighted they cannot force everyone to report crime and crime is being underreported.
- Growing immigrant population – there is still a mistrust between immigrant communities and law enforcement, again, French covered this in her presentation, but not all crime is being reported.
- Businesses not reporting all thefts – based on California law and District Attorney’s not prosecuting petty thefts, countless crimes are not even being reported to police–if nothing is going to happen, why take the time to file a report? In fairness, this is not limited to Antioch, but its a statewide problem that hopefully will be addressed by Sacramento in this legislative session. And lets be honest, on paper, this is the biggest reason overall crime is down. At least the City of Brentwood is taking the stance of encouraging all businesses to report its crime.
- District Attorney Not prosecuting – need I say more? A soft on crime DA is essentially only taking cases they can “win” and there is also a huge backlog that probably has not even entered in police data at this moment.
Underreported Crime is Becoming a Public Safety Crisis
I am not trying to discredit Antioch Police Department or Mayor Thorpe, but I think we all want accurate crime data which better helps police and communities better improve safety, make better policy and work towards solutions. It’s a mess right now thanks to politics at the state level, certain district attorney offices and the prison system. It wouldn’t surprise me at some point in the near future we wake up and we have a “2011 moment” and wonder why is there so much crime around us.
Go to the grocery store or any retail shop. Has there ever been a time in your life where you have seen so many people walk out without paying? Have you ever seen stores simply just take the “product loss” simply because its cheaper to get the write off than to prosecute?
Its embarrassing people walk out with shopping carts of food, electronics, household items or whatever else without paying. At what point does society as a whole say they are not paying, why should I and walk out too with the goods. And guess what, those are the types of incident that is not getting entered into crime statistics.
Antioch Murder Data is Misleading
Per the Antioch Police Department website, the data does not even match with the Chiefs presentation given last year — for example, murders in 2021 were listed at 13 in his presentation, the website lists 12. In 2022, the Antioch Police Department list 9 murders.
Let’s be real, they responded to 14 fatal incidents and its knocked down to 9 based on how they were classified or what the District Attorney would charge. Of the five incidents not classified as murder, I would argue at least two of them should have been homicides such as the female found burned and mutilated on a trail. We can also debate the robbery gone wrong and several other incidents.
For arguments sake, my own bias says Antioch homicides in 2022 sat at 12 total. Meaning, homicides remain flat regardless of what the data says.
- Dec. 27 – shooting on Mandarin Way
- Dec. 17 – Fatal shooting 5000 Lone Tree Way
- Nov. 26 – Robbery – 2700 Contra Loma Blvd. — see DA Statement
- Oct 17 – city paved trail (burn & mutilated victim) — see arrest release
- Oct 11 – Fatal hit and run (contra Loma)
- Oct 8 – shooting at Belmont Lane
- Sept. 4 – shooting on MacCaulay Street & W 14th
- July 21 – shooting on Lawton St.
- May 20 – Lemontree Way
- Jan 26 – Alexis Gabe case (more info)
- Jan 24 – 2900 Delta Fair Blvd. (double homicide)
Do You Feel Safer Today Than In the Past?
At the end of the day, the data is the data, but the eyeball and smell test may tell me a different story. Frankly, underreported crimes and the impact it has on crime statistics is a public safety nightmare. One only has to ask themselves a very simple question, do you feel safer today than you did a year ago? A few years ago? A decade ago?
Only you can answer that question regardless of the political rhetoric and what the crime data says.
Personally, I don’t feel any safer in California, neither should you.