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Police Reform Advocates Welcome New Antioch Officers

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(Image courtesy of Antioch Police Department via Bay City News)

By Aly Brown
Bay City News

After an introduction of Antioch’s newest officers Tuesday, community advocates for police reform offered well wishes and prayers for their safety while urging them to be the change the struggling department desperately needs.

The four new officers — Alejandro Loroño, David Church, Trayjen Jones and Placido Serna III — are stepping into a department that was at the center of a federal investigation that uncovered civil rights violations, fraud, conspiracy to distribute steroids and destruction of evidence.

On Aug. 16, 2023, a federal grand jury filed four indictments that collectively charged 10 current and former officers and employees from the Antioch and Pittsburg police departments with various crimes.

Antioch Interim Police Chief Brian Addington briefly introduced each new officer before they spoke at the podium during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Church, an Antioch native, said he truly loves the city and is honored to serve the community. Jones, originally from Concord, said that while he hasn’t been in Antioch for long, he has fallen in love with the area and looked forward to serving.

Loroño said he has been part of community outreach and that he was eager to make a difference. Cerna hails from Stockton and received a degree in criminal justice and psychology. He shared that he has worked with mentally ill children in Modesto.

>>>Read: ‘We’re Not Going Back’: Antioch Appoints New Police Oversight Commission

During public comment on the item, Frank Sterling, a vocal police reform advocate who previously endured police brutality by Antioch police, welcomed the new officers.

“I want to welcome you here. I’m a critic of the racist, violent police we don’t want, and I know you guys know what you’re stepping into in Antioch,” said Sterling, sharing his experience of being choked and beaten by officers. “I want to ask you guys if you see racism in the department — if you see violence or something wrong — we’re trying to make a change here, and we need you guys to speak out.”

Leslie May, a mental health therapist and member of community advocacy group Reimagine Antioch, stressed the point that many in Antioch face severe trauma. She said she would give all the new officers the benefit of the doubt and was especially happy to hear that at least Cerna had experience working with individuals with mental illness .

“I’m going to pray for you. Don’t let these bad apples spoil you,” May said to the officers.

Kathryn Wade, whose son Malad Baldwin was a victim of police brutality in 2014, congratulated the officers on achieving their new positions. She urged them to stand by the oaths they took to protect the city of Antioch.

“You do have a very serious job here in our community, and I want to feel like I can trust you,” Wade said. “I want to pray that God protects you.”

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