As the Antioch police scandals of racist text messages and alleged cocaine distribution get worse, state Attorney General Rob Bonta declares, “We're going to get to the bottom of what's happening in the Antioch Police Department."
The Antioch Police Department was already under an FBI and Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office investigation over what the Bay Area News Group describes as “alleged involvement with cocaine and steroids” and “fatal use-of-force incidents committed by some of the officers.”
That investigation begat a separate racist text message scandal, with messages so bad that KTVU notes one of them depicts a "large African American male, with his penis exposed, sitting on the neck of George Floyd." And KTVU also notes that text scandal has now begat a state investigation by Attorney General Rob Bonta into the Antioch Police Department.
CADOJ is launching a civil rights investigation into the Antioch Police Dept.— Rob Bonta (@AGRobBonta) May 10, 2023
Police departments work every day to safeguard the people of CA.
We must ensure a culture of professionalism and zero tolerance for hateful or racist behavior, on or off duty. https://t.co/gmpJGiloev
“Where there are allegations of potentially pervasive bias or discrimination, it can undermine the trust that is critical for public safety and our justice system,” Bonta’s office said in a Wednesday press release. “It is our responsibility to ensure that we establish a culture of accountability, professionalism, and zero tolerance for hateful or racist behavior, on or off duty.”
At CADOJ, we are committed to using the full authority of our office to uphold and enforce constitutional policing across the state.— Rob Bonta (@AGRobBonta) May 10, 2023
Public safety is built on trust. pic.twitter.com/xgURTSEaPQ
Bonta was more blunt in his Wednesday morning press conference. “We're moving in. We're going to get to the bottom of what's happening in the Antioch Police Department," he said, per KTVU.
KRON4 reports that 38 Antioch police officers are currently on leave over the myriad investigations, the the Bay Area News Group notes that 44 officers are currently under investigation. That’s in a department with only 99 officers, meaning close to half of the entire force is under investigation.
One of the text messages said, of Antioch’s Black mayor Lamar Thorpe, “I'll buy someone a prime rib if they take that *bleep* Mayor Thorpe out, with a whatever type of weapon.” So Thorpe, already not pleased over this scandal, said in a statement to the News Group that “The racism within the Antioch Police Department is rooted deeply within the culture, as it is one that has unfortunately protected and rewarded racism.”
There are many excessive force allegations among the other unpleasantness of racist text messages and cocaine allegations and such. One involves an officer whose K9 dog Purcy bit 22 people in a three-year span. As the News Group points out, “Department data shows the majority of people Purcy bit over a multi-year window were Black residents.”
Bonta has already started other probes into law enforcement entities in Santa Clara County, Los Angeles, and Riverside County. And these probes normally take several years to complete. At the rate the Antioch Police Department is going, there may be a number of new scandals to investigate by the time this probe is even finished.
Related: Video: Antioch Police Now Have Excessive Force, Racial Profiling Scandal On their Hands [SFist]
Image: @AGRobBonta via Twitter