Home » Editorial: Library Fiasco Foreshadowed by Antioch Council Actions

Editorial: Library Fiasco Foreshadowed by Antioch Council Actions

By Mike Burkholder

by CC News
Antioch Police

The temporary closure of the Antioch library has placed the City of Antioch in the national spotlight yet again for all the wrong reasons. I wonder if Antioch residents have had enough yet?

While it goes without saying this county library is the responsibility for the county to ensure safety inside, its Antioch’s responsibility to provide safety to the community in the surrounding neighborhood.  Ultimately, Antioch leadership should feel embarrassed.

For one, the claim they knew nothing about the problems–talk about being asleep at the wheel. And two, it will take an emergency contract for armed security guards and patrol to reopen a library. Yes, armed security at a public library.  This was totally preventable if the Antioch City Council took crime seriously as opposed to pretend like crime doesn’t exist or accuse police of being the problem—especially when crime is actually increasing.

Some members of the Antioch City Council can play dumb all they want for political reasons about the closure, but at the end of the day elections have consequences and so do votes on items. I can think of no greater mistake than one of the very first actions under Mayor Lamar Hernandez-Thorpe which was to rescind its school resource officer grant.

This was a grant that would have placed an officer at both Antioch High School and Antioch Middle School–within 30 seconds of the library and able to respond quickly, if needed. And apparently, they were needed at the library with more than a dozen 9-1-1 calls placed since December!

But I will get the the school resource officer topic in a second, just think about the library.

Even with armed security, who the heck would want to go there knowing they could be robbed, their vehicle could get vandalized or stolen, be around drug use, or bullets flying from any direction. Or, be exposed to people engaging in sex acts–which by the way, how clean is the library today? The library should be a sanctuary, not protected like its a bank.

Sure, armed guards and patrol will help, but its only a band-aid to a much larger issue in the area–its dangerous! Everybody in Antioch knows that E 18th Street to E 20th near D Street is not safe… it hasn’t been for years.

This is a result of Antioch not having its act together or actively working on solutions and now taxpayer money from the county will now fund security in Antioch.  How long will the county fund armed security or patrol? Money will not last forever. Then what? Should taxpayers in Contra Costa County go to fund armed security? Its a fair question but it is flat out ridiculous.

Antioch should be spending its own money on safety while using Measure W money for what it was intended for, not the mayors attempt to fleece people into pet projects such as its bogus homeless solutions or the fake office of public safety and community resources.

And by the way, where are all the youth programs and after school activities? The community is still waiting.

Sadly, after this narrative of an unsafe library, most people will take their backpacks and laptops and head to Brentwood or Pittsburg. For Antioch, the area continues to get no attention while the Antioch council gives itself bogus accolades.

Antioch High School School Resource Officer

An altercation between a student and safety personnel at Antioch High School in 2021

Unfortunately, this library disaster was foreshadowed back in 2020 when the council voted to rescind a grant for School Resource Officers – and in case you missed it above, would have placed two officers within 30-seconds response of the library.

And according to several sources, when Antioch Police were School Resource officers in the schools back in the day, these were the officers who did respond to calls at and around the library and work with the neighborhood residents and businesses.

Back in July of 2020, the Antioch Police Department was awarded a $750k grant from the US Dept. of Justice which would have brought six SRO’s to the Antioch Unified School District—this was all in response to a January 31, 2020 fatal shooting at Deer Valley High School. At the time, big promises were made to improve safety after that shooting, but next to nothing actually happened. The community got lip service, not actual safety improvements, if anything, they got less safety thanks to national rhetoric.

With the grant, officers would have been placed at Antioch High School, Deer Valley High School, Antioch Middle School, Black Diamond Middle School, Dallas Ranch Middle School and Park Middle School. And, it was a cost savings to the city because it was a 3-way split between the grant, the city and school district for six officers.

Here are the officers who were selected for the school resource officer assignment:

  • Officer Kendall – African American male who grew up in east Oakland. His mom is a teacher, father a preacher while he and his wife started WIMP (Weapons in Minors Possession) to help educate and raise awareness of damages caused by weapons. He works with youth at his church and coaches youth basketball.
  • Officer Allen – white female in 20’s, grew up playing sports, coached youth sports teams and mentored youths, features in Share Blue Smiles for working with school age girls.
  • Officer Saffold – African American male in 30’s, grew up on military base. High School he met an SRO who helped guide him in life challenges (suicide of father, wife’s addiction to narcotics where she was eventually arrested and now a single father)
  • Officer Aguilar – bilingual male in his 30’s. Came to Antioch from El Cerrito where he was an SRO and created a cross country running team. Grew up in East Oakland.
  • Officer Tanguma – Hispanic male in 30’s, Senior Year in HS he worked on projects where he adopted and worked younger students who were to enter into HS, coached youth football.
  • Officer Blumberg – white male in 40s. Worked as paramedic and EMT. He was a preceptor and worked with students and interns to teach them jobs. Coaches youth swimming, water polo and is a cadet advisor for city of Antioch.

A great group of officers who would have been an asset for Antioch youths to be engaged with, get to know, and build relationships–and none of them were involved in any text messages (for those curious). And if there were multiple 9-1-1 calls to the library, officers who had relationships with youths would be on site, they would know the kids while folks in the neighborhood would get to know the officers because it would also serve as a beat for them.

Its worked wonders in the city of Brentwood where a school resource officer frequently respond to the parking garage, city park and other downtown issues–they know the youths and can have conversations. Meanwhile, in Pittsburg, its school resource officer frequently assists the area around campus. In Oakley, same thing. It works!

This win-win in Antioch was destroyed before it even started all because of philosophy of the bogus anti-police narratives in favor of coddle the criminal mentality of the majority council.

Vote Recaps:

  • In a 3-2 July 2020 vote, the Antioch City Council voted to approve the grant with then Mayor Sean Wright and Councilmembers Joy Motts and Lori Ogorchock in favor with Lamar Thorpe and Monica Wilson voting “no” after approximately 100 public comments and an hour of council debate.
  • In an August 3-2 vote (Hack, Rocha and Gibson-Gray in favor and Householder and Sawyer-White against), the Antioch Unified School District approved splitting the cost of the SRO grant.
  • In December 2020, under a new Antioch City Council, one of the first acts under Mayor Lamar Hernandez-Thorpe was to rescind the SRO contract in a 3-2 vote with Thorpe, Tamisha Torres-Walker and Monica Wilson in favor while Mike Barbanica and Lori Ogorchock were against.

Before the program could even be launched, it was killed.

Thus, Antioch Unified School District was forced to increase its own security by hiring 4 armed security guards to cover 24-school sites. This is not exactly ideal for safety.

Also, before anyone wants to bring up the text scandal and these officers would have been placed back on the street, if AUSD and a grant was paying for officers, Antioch Police would still be required 50% of the time to be on campus or in the area of a school–its still a win for the neighborhood.

I know this ultimately a game of “what if” when looking back at what could have been. Its just one perspective, but now we will never know if school resource officers could have helped the school district and county library because Hernandez-Thorpe, Torres-Walker and Wilson killed the grant before the impact officers could have had on the neighborhood and schools were realized.

Instead, another band-aid approach in the City of Antioch with the county now providing armed security guards at a library.

Had enough yet Antioch? This Antioch library situation is pretty pathetic all around.

Mike Burkholder

Mike Burkholder
Publisher of ContraCosta.news
[email protected]

You may also like


Jim Simmons February 20, 2024 - 7:10 am

A nice “what if” concept and no one will ever know the impact of SRO’s in Antioch. Council should have tried it. Did the council forget a homicide occurred not to long ago. How about the backpack of drugs. Armed suspects on school campus. All the other things happening in the area and the council plays stupid. Hopefully people take this to heart and realize the council is the problem, not the police or bloggers. Nice touch on pointing out where are the after school and youth programs? Antioch is waiting for them. They are needed.

Fact Check Burk February 20, 2024 - 7:13 am

You make it sound like police would respond to every call. They do not. Lets not play the what if game and instead deal with today. Antioch doesn’t need SRO’s. It needs more oversight of police before things get better and trust can get built. Police are not the solution in our schools.

TwoCents February 20, 2024 - 8:00 am

The Mayor needs to have an oversight committee on him. Stop treating cops like they’re the boogeymen. About 16 cops have been CLEARED and LT want’s to play around with public safety. He’ll pay if he tries to fire these cops. Lawsuits will be flying and exposing his retaliation because he didn’t give up his text messages.

MODERATE February 20, 2024 - 11:34 am

No, it needs more POLICE – period – before things have any hope of getting better. The criminal activity detailed by the library was not and is not caused by “lack of trust” in the police. Are you trying to tell us that “lack of trust” compels people to rob, steal and have sex in the stacks? Bull! It is due solely to that element of Antioch’s population that totally lacks any moral or ethical values.

B February 21, 2024 - 2:33 pm

Thank you!

WPR February 22, 2024 - 9:43 am

So kids aren’t worth protecting and should be sitting ducks to maintain liberal anti Police talking points?

River Rat February 20, 2024 - 7:15 am

Will the county fund my business with armed security? Have vs. half not.

Just more leadership Failures.... February 20, 2024 - 8:00 am

The death spiral continues under this dumpster fire of City Leadership. We need to clean house in Antioch. These people have failed us in a spectacular way. Have the residents had enough punishment, or are you thirsty for more? Our property values have suffered under the immense pressure from our rock bottom reputation. We are literally ranking as the worst city in the Bay Area. Vote for Ron Bernal for Mayor and lets send these other failures in the City Council packing.

The Death Spiral is in Your Head February 20, 2024 - 8:40 pm

We definitely need to clean house: let’s start with all the racists and the shady actors crying wolf and closing the public library in an attempt to push a false narrative.

Refuse to See February 21, 2024 - 9:43 am

Open your eyes so you can see. Not everyone who disagrees with Thorpe’s failed leadership is racist. I know that’s the spin, but many residents look like him. Are they racist too or do they fall in the crying wolf, don’t believe what your lying eyes are telling you category? I would argue that people who support his failed agenda are blinded by the truth and refuse to see what’s staring them in the face.

MODERATE February 22, 2024 - 10:31 am

That’s humorously ironic (as well as absurd): the “false narrative” assertion is exactly what has been used by Trump and his Trumpettes.

You are the Racist one! February 22, 2024 - 12:37 pm

Or is it you are the true racist, because you’d rather keep a failed incompetent narcissistic sexual assaulter in office, than a competent one based solely on skin color. The only “False Narrative” is your tired and used up racist narrative. Ron Bernal for Mayor!!!!!

TwoCents February 20, 2024 - 8:16 am

What has the Dept of Public Safety accomplished so far?

Pattyofurniture February 20, 2024 - 8:34 am

Hey, did anybody else see the mini sideshow at G and 18th last week before school with the kids hanging out the windows, and then the driver sped off, made a u turn somewhere around L and 18th and then came back and stopped at the high school to let the kids who were hanging out the window out of the car? You stay classy Antioch!

FOOS February 20, 2024 - 8:36 am

The library cluster f… is nothing more than a microcosm of the problems facing Antioch. If you read the article any thinking person can see what a big part of the problem is. Without a doubt it lies at the feet of our Council majority. PERIOD! The anti police sentiment, inattention and glossing over actual crime in favor of feckless personal agendas has destroyed Antioch. Antioch is dying at the hands of an out of touch Council, the majority anyway.

Failed Leadership = The Problem February 20, 2024 - 8:40 am

More police is the solution to the City of Antioch and SRO to schools. Police don’t respond to every call because we currently do not have enough of them thanks to the mayor, who is in my opinion the guy who needs oversight, not the police. I’ve been a resident of Antioch for almost 32 years, a homeowner, law abiding and have NEVER had a negative police interaction. The police need room to do their job without constantly being barraged with insults, disrespect and criticism. We’ve all seen what coddling of criminals has done to this city and its reputation. It’s time to accept that the city needs to move beyond the current leadership and vote in persons who are willing to serve the interest of the city, NOT themselves.

TwoCents February 20, 2024 - 9:01 am

Many people who hate the police have a criminal record. They can’t follow instructions and blame others for their problems. Most people in a community don’t have police interactions.

Bob Briggs February 20, 2024 - 8:52 am

I agree with all of the above

WPR February 20, 2024 - 11:44 am

Thank You Mike, for all you do for Antioch.
Hope Antioch voters are paying attention to cumulative damaging actions done by those running Antioch.
A through house cleaning needs to start with mayor, city council and then those employed by city with years of built up arrogant of us them mentality. Change your attitude or LEAVE!
Antioch and Contra Costa County need to chuck their woke criminal coddling mentality and begin delivering a clear concise message to criminals, you will do serious time incarcerated if you do crimes!

So tired of it all February 21, 2024 - 3:57 pm

It’s unfortunate the mayor didn’t use that massive ego of his to strive to make Antioch a better place. Imagine the accolades he could have gotten! Instead of seemingly being on a mission to destroy the place.

FOOS February 22, 2024 - 8:08 am

When the voters fail to vet candidates or elect representatives because of name recognition or other unqualifying attributes this is what happens. Take a look at one Council member now running for state office. This person has done nothing for Antioch but exacerbate problems facing our community and blindly supported programs and policies that have led to the decline of our community. It would be a good thing for Antioch if elected, at least it would open a position on the Council. The fear is it would put someone in the State Assembly to rubber stamp more foolish self serving policies and programs. Wake up California.

Mr. Panther February 22, 2024 - 8:12 am

sad thing is Antioch is dead, like San Fran, Oakland, Antioch had 29 cars stolen last week, your kids aren’t safe, your fricking library is not safe, what a great way to live. nice article.

Don’t Be Fooled February 22, 2024 - 10:03 am

Exactly! I can’t even withstand seeing her face on campaign materials coming to my mailbox. She did nothing for Antioch except take up space and cast her vote on items that satisfied the voting block, instituting policies that have done nothing to improve the city. People had better start paying attention or she’ll end up at the state level taking the same nonthinking, ineffective approach which will affect more than just the City of Antioch. It’s a NO for me.

Rob S February 24, 2024 - 1:46 am

Priority 1: Get more police in Antioch.
Priority 2: Get more police in Antioch.
Priority 3: Get more police in Antioch.
Priority 5: Make Antioch a better city.


Jaime Spohn February 27, 2024 - 9:09 am

Mike, I do not always agree with your opinion. But I have read a couple of your editorials regarding the mismanagement of Antioch and sadly agree. Myself and my dad being Antioch High graduates and mom a long time community advocate.
Supporting schools and considering our children’s well being in decisions that are made for our East County communities is essential.
When the three person majority in Antioch did not support The Resource Officers was truly mind boggling. This action endangered the students and community. It is clear that the lack of law and order within the community has adversely impacted the County Library in Antioch, a sad situation.

Our city governments are elected by the people for the people and represent us at all levels of governance. I for one remember that when I cast my vote.

Comments are closed.