Watch CBS News

Short-staffed Antioch Police Department has residents on edge

Antioch Police Department struggling to staff up
Antioch Police Department struggling to staff up 02:51

ANTIOCH -- Like many police departments across the Bay Area, Antioch is having a hard time filling open positions -- especially after a racist texting scandal which involved nearly half of the department. 

Many residents feel crime is going up and there are fewer officers around to help.

If you look at the numbers, crime stats for the first two months of the year haven't risen dramatically but there have been increases in categories such as burglaries. Business owners are doing what they can to protect their stores until reinforcements arrive.

David (who did not give his full name) works at JJ Aquarium in Old Town Antioch. He says he feels safe with his dog Rex by his side but nearby businesses are frequently getting hit by thieves.

"It's been kind of a big struggle here with our neighbors being broken into a few times," he said. "The back door being kicked in and local law enforcement don't have any access or capability to help us."

The Antioch police department is short 35 officers. According to Mayor Lamar Hernandez Thorpe, of the 80 officers only 39 are on patrol. Residents say the worst part is that criminals are fully aware the police department is understaffed.

"They know," said Cathy Cabrera, an Antioch resident. "They know when there's cops out. They know where the cops are and where they're not and they take advantage of it."

Mayor Hernandez Thorpe says that, at least on patrol, the department is only one officer short but it's in the investigative and traffic divisions where the shortage is noticeable. He says 20 candidates have been hired since he started offering a $30,000 incentive program but they still have to get through the police academy.

"We just don't feel safe," Cabrera said. "We just need more officers and I don't see that happening anytime soon."

For now, Antioch has hired private security officers to patrol the downtown area. Residents have noticed CHP officers pitching in, especially to put the brakes on sideshows. Residents realize change may not come as fast as they had hoped but David isn't giving up on Antioch.

"Different little things I see give me hope," he said. "There are still officers that really care about the community and they got rid of the bad stuff."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.