Martinez, California – In the Tuesday session, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors approved a $5.515 billion budget for the fiscal year 2023-24. This budget incorporates increased funding for both the district attorney’s and public defender’s offices to manage cases arising from the Antioch police scandal.
Board Chair, John Gioia, underscored the significance of the allocation of $2.2 million annually for the review of cases that might have been affected by racial bias. He noted that the need for the addition of 10 new attorney positions was recommended in April’s budget hearing following requests from the public defender’s and DA’s offices. These newly added roles are in addition to the already budgeted positions.
Under this provision, both offices will receive funds for five new attorneys each. County representatives anticipate that this measure might lead to the overturning of numerous previous convictions, given the alleged police misconduct.
Investigations into the Antioch Police Department are ongoing, conducted by the District Attorney’s Office, the FBI, and the state attorney general’s office. Furthermore, two local congress members have urged the U.S. Department of Justice to initiate its independent inquiry.
Meanwhile, Pittsburg police are also under scrutiny for potential civil rights infringements. This county investigation has been in progress for over a year, with nearly half the Antioch police force implicated in the chain of racially charged and homophobic texts.
These messages included threats directed towards Antioch’s African American Mayor, Lamar Thorpe. Furthermore, at least six individuals, represented by civil rights attorney John Burris, are suing the department for alleged civil rights violations.
John Burris is pressing for federal oversight of the department. Meanwhile, the Antioch City Council revealed plans last month to audit the department’s recruitment and promotion procedures, internal affairs, as well as its equity practices and culture.
In addition to these allocations, the Supervisors approved approximately $850,000 annually from new Measure X sales tax funding to extend Stand Together Contra Costa, a legal defense provision for those at risk of deportation. They have also earmarked $80,000 for a one-off county study on the establishment of a Black Wellness Center.
Further funding has been allotted to the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District—an extra $5 million for new positions, totaling 31 roles, as the district continues to expand and reopen previously closed fire stations.
Moreover, Animal Services will add five new positions to increase field operations, shelter services, and spay and neuter offerings. The employment and human services division will add 26 new roles, eight positions will go to public works, and the assessor’s office will welcome four additional members to help manage an increased workload. Ultimately, the public defender’s office will incorporate a total of 18 new positions.