Many people have asked me what I and the police department are doing in response to the recent increase of violent crime in our city. Please afford me a few minutes of your time and allow me to respond to this very legitimate question.

If you attend City Council meetings, or come to one of my Coffee with the Cops presentations, you probably know that as of May 31, violent crime in Antioch was down 19.7 percent compared with the same time period last year. As I write this I do not have the final crime statistics for June, but you and I both know there have been a number of violent incidents in our city. As such, I fully anticipate the second quarter statistics will not paint as rosy of a picture.

There have been several reported shootings in Antioch so far this year, many of which took place in the Sycamore Drive area. During our investigation into all of these incidents, we have determined that many of them are gang- and/or drug- related. Even more of them have uncooperative victims! Yes, you read that last sentence correctly. Officers respond to a reported shooting, interview the victim (who may or may not have been struck by gunfire), and learn the victim refuses to provide any information to help in the apprehension or prosecution of the persons responsible for the crime.

Finding cooperative witnesses is also another challenge the responding officers face at these scenes. Sometimes, good law-abiding witnesses are afraid to give a statement for fear of retaliation. Other times, witnesses are friends of the victim and willingly refuse to cooperate. Not out of fear of retaliation, but possibly in hopes of delivering retribution in the form of another shooting at a later time. This mentality creates a cycle of violence, instilling fear in our residents.

In short, evidence suggests that most (but not all) of the people involved in our recent violent crimes, were targeted because of a lifestyle they choose to lead. They are not the typical victim who wants us to catch the persons responsible. They instead purposely lie or withhold information, sometimes in an effort to conceal their own indiscretions, and other times in hopes of dealing with the situation in their own way. Regardless, we continue to investigate these crimes and hope to hold the offenders responsible for their actions.

So, what is the police department doing to curb this violence?

1. First we are working diligently to rebuild our ranks and increase the number of police officers working the streets and detectives investigating reported crimes. We currently have 88 sworn police officers, and are authorized 97. We also have several people, both lateral officers and entry level trainees, in various stages of the hiring process. We've hired three people who are attending the police academy, and will begin their field training program after graduation. Feel free to scroll through prior posts on our Facebook page to see photos of the recent additions to our APD family.

2. Many of our recent hires are lateral police officers from other agencies. This is beneficial in a couple different ways. First, the field training program is much shorter for laterals than for entry level trainees. Many of our recent lateral hires have already completed their training and are already working at a solo officer capacity. Secondly, these are seasoned veteran officers who know how to spot and investigate crimes and other suspicious activities. They bring with them knowledge and expertise in areas of police work that benefit them, other officers, and the community.

3. With a limited number of officers, we really learned the value of seeking help from the public through Neighborhood Watch programs and other methods of public outreach. Even as our staffing increases, we realize we cannot be everywhere and see everything. Working in partnership with community members who care about our city and the safety of those who live in it, will always be important to us. We continue to spread the word and encourage people to get involved.

4. We continue to utilize technology to enhance our crime-fighting skills. A patrol car equipped with Automated License Plate Reader cameras has increased our recovery of stolen vehicles and arrests of those driving them. Portable fingerprint readers have been deployed in patrol cars, allowing officers to positively identify people who do not carry identification and lie about their name in an effort to avoid prosecution or arrest on outstanding warrants. We also post pictures and surveillance video from reported crimes on our Facebook and Twitter accounts, which have led to the identification and arrest of several subjects. We also implemented a tip line where people can anonymously text or email information about previously reported crimes.

5. We're taking criminals to jail! In comparing the first six months of 2014 with the same time period of 2013, adult arrests are up more than 11 percent, and total arrests are up almost 6 percent. This is obviously just a short-term solution, and a much deeper discussion is needed to talk about rehabilitation and treatment. However, a person willing and desiring to engage in criminal activity in our city cannot do so while he/she is in custody.

6. I spoke earlier about our staffing. Antioch is the second most populous city in Contra Costa County. Concord, which is the most populous city, currently has 148 sworn officers. To put it in perspective, Richmond, the third most populous city has 190 sworn officers.With our current staffing at 88, we can only staff critical assignments. Proactive and directed enforcement can only be accomplished by utilizing officers on overtime.

We, have and will continue to, conduct several proactive details to target violent criminal activity. Again, scroll through our prior Facebook posts to see some of the great efforts being made on Sycamore Drive, D Street and Cavallo Road.

We are working tirelessly to stop the violence. Regardless of the challenges we face, I promise that everyone at the Antioch Police Department is committed to doing their part to make Antioch safer.

Allan Cantando is chief of police at the Antioch Police Department.