Ahead of legal proceedings set to begin this Friday over the Antioch Police officers' racist texting scandal, department chief Steven Ford unexpectedly announced his retirement on Wednesday.
The announcement, made in a statement posted by the department on Wednesday night, will see Ford stepping down from his role on August 11, 2023, according to the Chronicle.
In his statement, Ford expressed gratitude for the opportunity to have served as Chief and credited the department's accomplishments to the support from the City Council, the citizens of Antioch, and the dedicated members of the Police Department. He acknowledged organizational changes that made the Antioch Police Department a “more inclusive, equitable, and an improved workplace.”
However, conspicuously missing from Ford's retirement statement was any reference to the racist text scandal rocking the police department. The FBI, Contra Costa District Attorney's Office, and California Attorney General Rob Bonta have launched civil rights investigations into the department after revelations that officers within the department exchanged racist and homophobic texts came out earlier this year. House Congressmembers also asked U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to launch a Justice Department probe into the allegations, as KTVU reported.
Approximately half of the officers in the department allegedly sent racist texts. In fact, KGO reported earlier in the week that one officer sent a text referring to Ford, who is Black, as a gorilla.
As a result, several cases have been dropped, a few officers have been suspended, and one has been fired.
Back in April, Ford called the scandal a "disturbing situation" when the news first broke, per KTVU, and vowed to hold the officers involved accountable for their actions. Still, the public remains in the dark about the discipline they may have received. Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe addressed the crisis in a letter to Ford on May 19, stressing that “talking away the issue” would not suffice.
Feature image of Steve Ford via Antioch police; Picture of cop car via Unsplash/Michael Förtsch.