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Antioch city manager names next acting police chief

ANTIOCH — Acting Police Capt. Joe Vigil has been named the temporary head of Antioch’s police force following the chief’s retirement.

Acting City Manager Kwame Reed made the announcement in an email on Monday evening. Vigil’s appointment as acting chief becomes effective on Aug. 12.

Vigil will replace Antioch Police Chief Steven Ford, who announced in late July that he was retiring on Aug. 11 after less than one year in the permanent position.

Vigil was one of four internal candidates Reed interviewed for the top job.

“He’s done a lot in his career,” said Reed, noting that Vigil earned a master’s degree in emergency service administration from California State University, Long Beach.

A 23-year veteran of law enforcement, Vigil joined the Antioch Police Department in May of 2020 and was recently promoted to captain, the highest ranking position under police chief.

When hired, Vigil brought Antioch’s rank numbers up to 115, the first time the department had been fully staffed since 2004, according to then-City Manager Ron Bernal.

But as the newest top cop, Vigil will face much different staffing levels, with 40 officers on leave, including 21 due to other issues such as the FBI investigation, racist text messages and the like. Fifty sworn members, including the chief, remain active and working, according to sources.

As an acting captain, Vigil has overseen patrol teams, investigations, the training of newly hired officers and monitors the department’s use of body cameras among other duties.

Before Antioch, he was a sergeant for the Richmond Police Department where he worked for 11 years, arriving there from Sacramento where he started his career in 2000.

In December, Vigil also began attending the California Commission on Police Officer Standards and Training’s Command College, a 14-month, master’s level program that equips police who are leaders in their departments with the skills and strategies needed to recognize emerging social, political and other issues that could affect law enforcement.

The next step is to launch a search for an interim police chief and once Reed has made that hire, Vigil will return to his previous position, the city manager said.

After that, recruitment will begin for a permanent police chief. Reed didn’t know how long the search would take, but said he looks forward to working with both the City Council and the Antioch community to identify the most important qualities for that person.

Reed added that he will be working with Chief Ford and Acting Chief Vigil this week to create a smooth transition between administrations.

Mayor Lamar Thorpe, Pro-Tem Tamisha Torres-Walker and Councilwoman Monica Wilson meanwhile have asked staff to prepare an ordinance changing the reporting the way the chief is hired, fired and supervised with the council in charge rather than the city manager. That item was to be discussed Tuesday but was pulled from the draft agenda.

Check back for updates.

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