The Antioch, California, Police Department recently introduced a cash incentive program to recruit new officers at a time when the department is undergoing a federal criminal investigation that has temporarily sidelined members of the force.
The investigation, headed by the FBI and Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office, involves eight Antioch officers (as well as three Pittsburgh police officers), who have been put on leave for the duration of the investigation. The investigation is looking into allegations of civil rights violations and other offenses.
At the time of this writing, it’s unclear how long the investigation will go on for.
“We don’t have a hand in the investigative process at all,” Interim Antioch Police Chief Steve Ford said in a press conference on October 18.
Ford hopes the cash incentive program will bring the department up to speed with the necessary manpower.
“Over the next year, we’ve instituted a significant incentive program providing $30,000 to entry and lateral level, contingent on probationary timeline,” Ford explained.
The Antioch P.D. currently has 76 full-time officers on duty. Ford did not specify the number of officers he hopes to hire, but said he is focusing on “quality over quantity.” “I don’t want to give any misinformation and say five or 10 or 15. We’ll take as many as we can get,” he said.
It remains to be seen whether the ongoing investigation will have a negative impact on the hiring of new officers.
“I think law enforcement across the country, police departments, are having challenges with hiring and recruiting,” Ford said. “Truthfully, young people have other outlets to make a living.”
One of the officers under investigation is Antioch Officer Morteza Amiri, whose K-9 has bitten 22 people since 2019. The DA is also investigating other use-of-force incidents involving the seven other Antioch officers.
On September 10, a federal grand jury convened to consider indictments of the 11 officers under investigation. Several of them are being investigated for the use of drugs, such as cocaine and steroids, cheating on tests and assaulting people, among other offenses.
Following the investigation, a grand jury will typically file an indictment with specific charges, which must then be approved by a jury.
The investigation marks the largest probe of law enforcement in Contra Costa County in a decade.