Members of the Antioch City Council in a meeting. They are two Black women, a Black man, a white man and a white woman.

Antioch Council Reverses Decision, Won’t Control Hiring, Firing Police Chiefs

Members of the Antioch City Council in a meeting. They are two Black women, a Black man, a white man and a white woman.

By Samantha Kennedy

After voting at its last meeting to take control of the hiring and firing of the police chief, the Antioch City Council decided against transferring the power to the council.

At its Tuesday meeting, Mayor Pro Tem Tamisha Torres-Walker pulled the proposed ordinance from the consent calendar to further discuss adding an amendment that would eventually pass the power back to the city manager, as she had suggested at the Aug. 22 council meeting. The amendment — and with it, the ordinance — failed 2-3, with Mayor Lamar Thorpe and council members Michael Barbanica and Lori Ogorchock voting against it.

Any further action on the current ordinance cannot be taken.

Torres-Walker, who previously voted in favor of the ordinance, posted a video on her Facebook page explaining her intention to not support the ordinance should her amendment not pass.

“I think that the compromise that I suggested at the last council meeting was a reasonable one,” Torres-Walker said in the Sept. 11 video. “I believe in balance, leadership. Sometimes you just have to move things because it’s necessary to move things on behalf of the community because things have been stagnant for so long.”

The ordinance would have granted the council power to hire and fire a police chief; however, Torres-Walker’s amendment would have given that power back once a permanent city manager was hired or at the end of 12 months, whichever was sooner.

Council member Monica Wilson said she decided to vote in support of Torres-Walker’s amendment after having several weeks to think about imposing a time limit.

Thorpe said he could not support the amendment because his values tell him the addition of the amendment would not make the ordinance proper policy.

“The purpose of this is accountability,” Thorpe said. With the addition of this amendment, he said, there “will never be oversight” of the police chief.

“I do believe that radical action needs to be taken to address the challenges we are all facing when it comes to quality non-biased policing services in the city of Antioch,” Torres-Walker wrote alongside her video.

In response to residents suggesting she was being influenced by outside forces, she said she was only influenced “by my values and a conscience.”

“A lot of times, when people who haven’t had power get a little, they misuse it,” she said. “That can happen in politics. That can happen among city council.”

Torres-Walker also said the responsibility of police chief oversight to a city council whose workload is piled on top of working full-time factored into her proposing the amendment.

Antioch’s acting City Manager Kwame Reed was appointed at the end of June. He will retain the power of the hiring and firing of the police chief while the city is in the process of hiring someone to fill the position.

The next Antioch City Council meeting is Sept. 26.

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