Home » Antioch City Council Seeks Power to Hire Fire Police Chief

Antioch City Council Seeks Power to Hire Fire Police Chief

by CC News
Chief Steve Ford

On Tuesday, the Antioch City Council will discuss transferring the power to appoint, supervisor, and remove the chief of the police away from the city manager to the city council.

This move has been telegraphed by a progressive city council for more than a year as the council has pushed several police reform initiatives into the city of Antioch—it also comes at a time when the city has no permanent city manager or assistant city manager. Recently, Forrest Ebbs was recently appointed acting City Manager.

The council will receive information (see blow) and then consider whether to seek a change to the organizational structure.

At the March 30 Press Conference, Mayor Lamar Thorpe announced he had no problem making administrative changes in the City of Antioch, which included the chief of police. At the press conference, it became clear the mayor and police chief we not talking or had any sort of relationship–especially during the media Q&A portion of the press conference.

Dr. Steve Ford was introduced in April 2022 as the interim Antioch Police Chief after Captain Tony Morefield held the position after Chief Tammany Brooks retired in September of 2021.

According to the City Manager Report, Steven Ford was appointed to Police Chief effective October 23, 2022


Here is the Staff Report


It is recommended that the City Council provide direction to staff regarding whether to prepare an ordinance changing the organizational structure of the City’s administration by transferring, from the City Manager to the City Council, the authority to appoint, supervise, and remove the Chief of Police

City Council’s Statutory Authority

City councils are granted wide latitude in deciding how a city will be administered and operated. The Government Code provides a city council with the statutory authority to appoint and remove the chief of police. (Gov. Code, § 36505; Gov. Code, § 36506.) A city council can also adopt a city manager form of government and vest the authority, by ordinance, in the city manager to appoint and remove the chief of police and other subordinate appointive officers and employees, except the city attorney. (Gov. Code, § 34856.)

The City of Antioch currently operates under a city council-city manager form of government. The ordinance establishes the authority of the City Manager and vests the authority to appoint, remove, and supervise the Chief of Police. In the city council-city manager form of government, the city council conducts policymaking functions, approves the budget and certain decisions, and supervises the city manager and the city attorney.

The chief of police is generally appointed and supervised by the city manager.In some cities, the city council appoints department heads, including the chief of police.

Under this organizational structure, the chief of police reports directly to the city council, but many routine day-to-day police department issues may be coordinated by the city manager. In this way, more routine matters are handled by the city manager and the city council has a more direct relationship with the chief of police. An example of this structure is found in the City of Fullerton, CA, where the Chief of Police is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the City Council. (Ord. 3185,§ 2, 2012)

The City of Antioch Has a Council-City Manager Form of Government

The City of Antioch has a council-city manager organizational structure. The City Manager is responsible to the City Council for the efficient administration of all the affairs of the City that are under his control. The City Manager exercises control over all departments and divisions of the City government and over all appointive officers and employees, except as provided by local, state, or federal law. The City Manager has power, subject to the City personnel rules, to employ, discipline, or remove all heads of departments or subordinate officers and employees, to transfer employees from one department to another, and to consolidate or combine offices, positions, departments, or units under his or her jurisdiction.

The Police Oversight Standing Committee Previously Considered Transferring the Authority to Appoint and Remove the Chief of Police from the City Manager to the City Council

In 2021, the City Council explored the idea of changing the authority of the City Manager to hire and remove the Chief of Police. At the October 26, 2021 meeting of the Police Oversight Standing Committee, Mayor Thorpe, Mayor Pro Tem Wilson and Council Member Torres-Walker requested a working draft of the Police Chief hiring process that includes the following: an external recruitment pool, one representative from each district involved in the hiring process, the City Council’s ability to ratify the contract prior to hiring. Notably, the City Council expressed interest in transferring authority from the City Manager to the City Council to make the final decision regarding hiring of a police chief.

At the November 23, 2021 meeting, former City Manager Ron Bernal prepared a staff report on the City’s “Police Chief Recruitment and Hiring Process”. Councilmember Barbanica made a motion to approve the policy prepared by City Manager Bernal. The motion was seconded by Councilmember Ogorchock, but it failed with only Councilmembers Barbanica and Ogorchock voting in favor of it. Mayor Pro Tem Wilson and Councilmember Torres-Walker voted against the motion. Mayor Thorpe was absent.

At the end of that meeting, Councilmember Torres-Walker requested a Municipal Code review of the police chief appointment process to include the City Council.

Transferring the Appointment Supervision, and Removal Authority for the Chief of Police from the City Manager to the City Council Would Require Amending the Antioch Municipal Code

The existing structure of the city council-city manager form of government is established by ordinance. Therefore, the Antioch City Council would need to adopt an ordinance amending the City’s municipal code if it desired to change the reporting structure of the Chief of Police. A new ordinance could remove the existing authority of the City Manager with regard to the Chief of Police position and vest the authority to appoint, supervise, and remove the Chief of Police in the City Council.


Supervision and Performance Evaluation of the Chief of Police
The Chief of Police is currently supervised by the City Manager. If the Chief of Police were to report directly to the City Council, then the City Council would supervise the Chief and evaluate his performance. This authority would be vested in the City Council as a whole. The procedure for supervising this position could include annual, semi-annual, and/or as-needed performance evaluations. If the City Council desires to maintain closer oversight, the City Council could meet more regularly for this purpose. It would also be exercised by the City Council as a whole via noticed closed and open session public meetings.

Under this reporting structure, the City Manager, City Attorney, and Chief of Police would all report to the City Council. Therefore, the City Council may wish to consider the extra workload for an additional direct report. That being said, a direct reporting relationship between the City Council and the Chief of Police may support enhanced communication and alignment between the City Council and the Police Chief.

On the other hand, if the City Council elects to retain the current reporting relationship between the City Manager and the Chief of Police, the City Manager could include community-provided information in the evaluation the Police Chief.

The California League of Cities, in its Mayors and Council Members Resource Guide, describes the importance of the relationship between the City Council and Police Department as follows:

“The internal policies and procedures of the [police] department are determined by the police chief and need to be consistent with the law and policies of the city manager or city administrator and the council. Since the police function is primarily concerned with a broad range of order maintenance activities and with the provision of services to the community, these matters are clearly local concerns requiring responsiveness to the public and accountability to community priorities. Coordination of services, development of priorities, and maintenance of a balance between the services offered and the financial resources of the community require that the agencies delivering the services be responsible to the public. The determination of what services a police agency will provide, what priorities will exist, and what police responses will be sanctioned are proper decisions for the city council. A police department exists within a political arena, and a city council can be asked to answer to the electorate based on the actions of the police department. It is therefore, important that a police department understand its connection and relationship within this political arena.”

The City Council may also be well positioned to evaluate the effectiveness of the police department by soliciting input from their respective constituencies. The City Council has extensive relationships that position them to understand the perception of the police by diverse communities of residents, the business community, the faith-based community,
and by other communities and individuals interacting with law enforcement. For example, the presence of officers on “Patrol” assignment on the streets may be perceived differently by different segments of the community; for some it may suggest comforting security, but others may view it as intimidating. Certain statistical measurements may suggest varying degrees of productivity, but these may be counter to the community’s perception.

City Council Discussion and Public Comment

The City Council’s decision of whether to transfer, from the City Manager to the City

Council, the authority to appoint, supervise, and remove the Chief of Police is likely to have city-wide implications. Therefore, the City Council may wish to invite input from the City Manager, department heads, other city staff, and the broader Antioch community.

Antioch City Council Meeting
Tuesday, April 11, 2023


  • 5:00 P.M. Closed Session
  • 5:30 P.M. Special Meeting/Study Session
  • 7:00 P.M. Regular Meeting

Place: Council Chambers
200 H Street Antioch, CA 94509
Full Agenda: https://www.antiochca.gov/fc/government/agendas/CityCouncil/2023/agendas/041123/041123.pdf

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WPR April 7, 2023 - 1:27 pm

Is having Antioch on a law enforcement resume considered a Black Mark?
$30,000 signing bonus doesn’t seem to be helping get APD new officers.
Why would a qualified person want to work for such a crime ridden city plagued by dysfunctional management.

Robert C. April 7, 2023 - 3:05 pm

They are quite silent about “Con,” aren’t they?

Choose Life April 7, 2023 - 3:12 pm

Thorpe seems to want to be dictator, not mayor. As if he hasn’t set the City back far enough and burned up plenty of relationships in his wake. More damage to come.

Michael April 7, 2023 - 5:39 pm

The citizens should be firing the disastrous Mayor & City Council.

Frank April 7, 2023 - 7:17 pm

So we have a DUI offender, an arsonist and a follower that plan on being the monarchy of the City of Lamar. God help us all. I was telling a friend of mine before this happened that something was in the works. Oh boy was I right.

Robert C. April 8, 2023 - 6:12 am

Not to forget his sexual harassment offenses for which the taxpayers footed the legal settlement bill.

Coastrider711 April 8, 2023 - 8:41 am

I was telling a friend of mine…This is America….Antioch longs for the “old days”. Why would a cop care?? Do your job and don’t send bigoted texts. Easy peasy…get that $30k.

The Truth April 8, 2023 - 8:54 am

This is a common law city NOT a charter city. Mayor Thorpe has no more control than any other city council member.

ME April 8, 2023 - 1:12 pm

Totally retaliation. They hired him and now because he has an independent thought n comment they will fire him. And when they do I hope Ford sues the shit out of the Mayor personally and the city. Maybe everyone will wake up then.

Steven R April 8, 2023 - 1:51 pm

Thorpe needs to be voted out of office the old-fashioned way.

Loretta Sweatt April 8, 2023 - 8:29 pm

Vote Out Thorpe, Walker, Wilson and Antioch will be fine.

Jaimoe April 11, 2023 - 7:28 am

Soros funded Mayor and council?
Maybe look into it, you might be surprised 🧐

SELF April 14, 2023 - 2:13 pm

Fire Lamar Thorpe, The chief, Ford, City, Create a new legislation for the City of Antioch and give authority to the city council to make decisions on the hiring and firing of the Police Department staff. Total corruption in the city of Antioch….and there more to this, and is not only the police….

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