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The Antioch City Council has finally launched the police department’s new body cam and vehicle mobile camera program after fine-tuning its policies and guidelines.
Proposed by new Mayor Lamar Thorpe in February, the body cam system purchase and installation was the centerpiece of a program of police reforms endorsed by a new African American council majority elected last November.
Public uproar over police shootings nationally and locally led to approval of the five-year, $1.4 million contract with Axon Enterprise Inc. and $1.3 million for staff support for the new equipment and data services.
The officer body cams were the first part of a police reform program presented to the City Council by Thorpe that includes a new mental health crisis response team, officer training, demilitarization of police, independent review of police complaints, hiring and screening and public notification for major incidents.
Thorpe’s platform of police reforms were brought before the council following the in-custody death of Angelo Quinto in December and another in-custody death in February.
Following the unanimous approval of policy guidelines, the mayor added his personal thanks to Police Chief Tammany Brooks and the council members for supporting the body cam project over five months of multiple meetings and hearings.
Thorpe said Thursday that the body cam program “will provide added transparency to police operations for all parts of our community and hopefully increase confidence in our department.”
The mayor said he has been getting positive feedback from both police officers and city residents on the new tools.
“More accountability helps all of us,” he added. Some of his constituents “are actually shocked we didn’t already have them.”
The Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office remains the only major police agency in the county that is in not utilizing officer body cams.
The mayor is continuing development of a mental health crisis response team program that he hopes to bring before the City Council for funding in October.
The July 27 council meeting may have revealed a potential method to fund the new program. As part of the federal American Rescue Plan Act, a COVID-19 pandemic recovery bill, the city is receiving $21.55 million.
The city has received half of the funding already with the remainder arriving in May 2022. The city has until 2026 to spend the funds, which can be applied to economic assistance for businesses, households, homeless services, parks and more.