Panel informs on justice

Students hear from Antioch police department and district attorney

Yesenia, Mendez

Los Medanos College was given a new perspective on justice May 6th when Antioch Police Department Chief Tammany Brooks and Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton spoke at the “Understanding Justice” Panel. LMC’s History department coordinated this event at which the guests spoke about their unique backgrounds, their roles as African American leaders in the criminal justice system, and how to make a difference in the community.

The event opened with a short motivational speech by LMC’s newly elected Vice President Shagoofah Khan.

“I was motivated to get involved in the student government and my community because I saw injustice” Khan said, “I am young, only 18 but our age should not discourage us from being the change you want to see in the world.”

The room was filled with a diverse crowd of students and staff.

“The questions and answers were on point. This was a conversation we should have more often,” said Professor Reggie Lemay, who attended the event.

Becton and Brooks were given a platform to answer questions related to criminal justice, impacts on African American and Latinx communities, and their roles as leaders. Although some prepared questions were given to them prior to the meeting from students and professors, audience members were also able to ask questions on the spot.

“What are your thoughts about current discussions around police brutality?” was one of many, blown up on a projector in front of the room to read and discuss.

“Training requirements need to be improved. Some agencies train once a month and some only once a year,” said Becton

“I do not approve of it and I do not know a chief who agrees with police brutality,” said Brooks emphatically.

Technology advancements and social media are important resources for the Antioch Police Department to get a look at the hostilities and abuses that are taking place in today’s society by police.

Brooks used those resources to show his department what changes they need to make in their community. Their department is taking measures to be more transparent with the city such as making public records free of charge online. He said his goal as chief is to gain the trust of the community by building relationships and that things are different then what they used to be.

“I don’t want to hire someone who will discredit Antioch’s organization and enforcement,” said Brooks.

The issue of relationships was a huge and surprising theme in this panel.

“In order to get past the image of animosity towards police enforcement, it’s important that we are communicating with the public, being involved within our communities, deep diving into our data,” said Becton adding it is important to be accessible and available. “We cannot and we are not hiding behind our shields.”

Becton said she wants to make sure their system of justice does not pick sides and is fair to all. A product of Oakland, she is the first woman and person of color to ever serve as District Attorney for Contra Costa. She was elected for her ideas of change.

“When people walk into a police department or a D.A.’s office and see people like them, it builds relationship and comfort,” said Becton

Brooks had his fair share of struggles growing up in San Francisco’s high-crime Bayview Hunters Point. A high school dropout with no parental guidance, he beat his odds and became Antioch’s first African American police chief.

“How many people in this room want to be a cop?” asked Brooks. Not one person in the room raised their hand.

This is an important role for Brooks because he wants to build a diverse police force so more young people of color will want to join.

The panel went a little over schedule because the room was so engaged and impressed by Brooks and Benton’s presence, that they did not want the conversation to end.

Professor Idris Archuleta expressed satisfaction with how the panel went and enjoyed the opportunity for them to share their knowledge and to get to know the community. “They make me proud to be African American,” said Archuleta.