“…with a heavy heart” his last day will be August 11th; while 35 officers on paid leave due to two investigations
By Allen D. Payton
With rumors beginning to circulate in the community Antioch Police Chief Steve Ford announced his retirement on Wednesday afternoon, July 19, 2023. His last day will be August 11th.
After less than nine months in his permanent position as the leader of the department, Ford wrote to his staff, “Dear members of the Antioch Police Department,
It is with a heavy heart that I forward this email to inform that I will be retiring as of August 11th. My time here has been both a tremendous opportunity and quite challenging. What is most meaningful to me are the relationships I have forged. I’m grateful for the way you embraced me and the changes we made.
I firmly believe with your help and determination this organization is poised to move forward in a very meaningful way and evolve where anyone would want to work.
It’s been my privilege to have worked with all of you.
Although he had just started his tenure as interim police chief following a grand oath of office ceremony on April 27, 2022, Ford is named in a federal lawsuit regarding the Antioch officers’ racist text scandal which covered a time period ending that month. He is also scheduled to testify at a hearing this Friday, July 21, in a murder case involving four defendants whose attorneys claim officers violated their civil rights.
In addition, during their meeting on April 11, 2023, the council majority moved forward with an effort to directly hire the police chief instead of leaving it up to the city manager, as is done with all other department heads.
It will leave the City with an acting city manager, no assistant city manager, an acting public works director, currently no acting community development director as of Monday afternoon due to the departure of Forrest Ebbs last Friday, and no assistant city attorney. Unless the city council takes action to change who appoints the police chief, Acting City Manager Kwame Reed will be tasked with appointing an acting or interim chief. Captain Tony Morefield filled the position after former Chief Tammany Brooks left for a new job in Boise, Idaho in October 2021, until Ford came on board.
UPDATE 1: When reached for comment District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica said, “this took us all by surprise. I learned of it this evening. I’ve worked with the chief closely during the time he has been here. Now, that he has made his decision, what we need to do is regroup and talk about who to appoint as acting or interim chief. Kwame is going to need the support of the city council. We cannot be without a chief.”
UPDATE 2: Chief Ford Issues Statement to Community
The following press release was issued Wednesday night:
July 19, 2023 – Antioch, California
The Antioch Police Department announces the retirement of Chief Steven A. Ford effective August 11, 2023. The following is a statement from Chief Ford to the Antioch Community.
To the Antioch Community,
I am writing to inform you of my decision to retire from the Antioch Police Department as of August 11, 2023. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to have served as your Chief. I have worked with some very talented and passionate people – it has been a great privilege to learn and grow from them.
I am proud of what we have accomplished and firmly believe the groundwork has been laid for organizational success. I know our work to align us with the tenants of Procedural Justice and Constitutional Policing will keep this Department headed in the right direction. I sincerely hope our engagement with the Community will continue and flourish.
I attribute our numerous accomplishments to support from the City Council, the tremendous Citizens of Antioch, and the talented members of this Police Department, who continue to embrace organizational changes with enthusiasm and dedication. Because of this, the Antioch Police Department has become more inclusive, equitable, and a better place to work.
Steven A. Ford
Chief of Police
Efforts to reach Ford for further comment and the other four council members for their responses were unsuccessful prior to publication Wednesday evening. Please check back later for any updates to this report.