ANTIOCH -- Elected leaders gave strong indication this week that the city should bulk up its police staffing by hiring at least five non-sworn community service officers and being more aggressive in its recruitment of new officers.
The City Council will consider funding more positions at its meeting later this month.
Antioch's police department is down 37 sworn officers from its authorized strength of 126 officers, not including the dozen or so officers that may be on industry or injury leave or military duty.
It also has no non-sworn community service officers to handle duties such as booking, fingerprinting and transporting people to county jails.
However, the city is in the process of hiring for 13 vacant sworn officer positions, including five funded by a Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS, grant the city received in June, Finance Director Dawn Merchant said during Tuesday's update on police staffing.
The city will have to cover about a third of the cost for the officers hired with the $1.5 million, three-year grant.
Antioch should work toward continuously hiring new officers to take into account "envisioned vacancies," such as retirements, people leaving the department and the length of time it takes to bring new hires on board, Councilman Brian Kalinowski said.
"The reality is, we should be overshooting," said Kalinowski, adding it provides for a "soft landing."
It takes about three to six
While that recruitment is ongoing, having the non-sworn officers back at work could free up the time sworn officers now spend handling their tasks.
Salary and benefits for a community resource officer would be about $87,000 per year.
For those in their mid-20s considering getting into law enforcement, the moves will show Antioch is not just treading water, but looking to build up its department, Kalinowski said.
"It's a net positive. Nothing better could be said (in recruiting publications) than we're hiring 20 officers and six CSOs," he said.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.