ANTIOCH -- Everybody in the community must help be part of the solution for combating crime.
That's the approach Mayor Wade Harper is taking in calling for a crime prevention forum Thursday at Antioch High School's Beede Auditorium.
The forum will include the City Council, as well as Antioch Police department, school district and local faith leaders brainstorming ideas and listening to resident suggestions to help stop the city's crime spike, Harper said.
"We as a community must reset our expectations. We cannot accept increases in crime, shootings and things like that. We need some forward thinking," Harper said. "We want to hear from the community about issues that they may be facing.
Adds Councilwoman Monica Wilson: "It's not meant for people to come and gripe, but to bring problems with solutions, and suggestions on areas they think we should be more focused on."
Public safety has been the main concern of Antioch residents in recent years.
Statistics for 2012 echoed concerns expressed by residents across the city: Violent crime increased 30.6 percent from 2011 and total crime went up 24.2 percent, including substantial increases in burglaries and aggravated assaults. Meanwhile, arrests were down 13.6 percent.
Police Chief Allan Cantando's presentation at a city meeting earlier this month highlighted the department's low staffing levels and where future officers would be directed when more cops are
Seeing police at the same staffing as it was in 1995, back when the city was almost half its size, and hearing police say they want to be able to serve the community better really hit home, Councilman Tony Tiscareno said.
"There's a dire need," he said. "I want to hear what the community wants and really needs."
Cantando's breakdown of where officers would be deployed is a "good start," Harper said.
"We know we need more cops, but it's important to know what we hope to accomplish," he said.
City leaders say they want to know where residents want police to focus their efforts once staffing increases: Should traffic enforcement be increased, or more emphasis be on fighting blight, or should cops be out on foot in certain neighborhoods.
At Saturday's Coffee with the Cops event, about 150 residents voiced concerns about issues such as response times to burglaries and other crime, problem renters and landlords and crime movement into their neighborhoods.
Pat Scott and Dale Lutes were among the residents at that meeting who plan to go Thursday.
"It's time to do something and not just give lip service anymore," Scott said.
Adds Lutes: "There's an increase in crime and litter in my neighborhood. I want to know what we can do."
A representative from the Contra Costa Housing Authority will also be on hand to provide answers and clarification on issues about the federal Section 8 housing voucher program.
The City Council will also consider asking for further research into placing a possible tax measure to fund police at Tuesday's meeting.
Information from Thursday's forum will be gathered and presented to the council during a strategic planning session, scheduled for late March.
"We'll probably receives hundreds and hundreds of suggestions. We'll have to really take them and sit down and see which realistically get through," Wilson said. "Hopefully, we can get some results."
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.
What: Community Crime Prevention Forum
When: 6 p.m. Thursday
Where: Antioch High School's Beede Auditorium, 700 W. 18th St.