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Update: Judge releases names of Antioch officers accused of racist text messaging


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    ANTIOCH, California (KPIX) — A Contra Costa County judge has released the names of 17 Antioch police officers accused of using racist slurs, jokes and memes in text messages over a period of more than two years.

The judicial action took place on Friday and was reported by the East Bay Times.

In releasing the names, Judge Clare Maier urged caution, saying the content of the messages was so offensive it could “incite further hate or racial animus.”

Included on the list according to the newspaper was Rick Hoffman, the president of the Antioch Police Association, who is currently on administrative leave.

“There are no words to express my profound disappointment given that one of the officers serves as president of the Antioch Police union,” Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe said in a Saturday statement posted on Youtube. “This will undoubtedly leave an embarrassing stain on our community. The culture at the Antioch Police Department is a problem and has long been a huge financial and legal liability to the city.”

“The culture of the department requires further exploration including how the hell all this alleged misconduct could go on for so long without anyone on our command staff noticing,” Thorpe continued. “From lieutenant on up to chief.”

Thorpe called for an outside audit of the internal affairs process stemming back six years.

Five of the officers are already under investigation by the FBI for alleged crimes. Of the 11 others the judge named at least eight have been put on leave over the racially offensive group texts.

Maier said she took the action because the information did not deserve protection under the California evidence code.

The existence of the text messages became known last month as a result of an ongoing federal probe into Antioch and Pittsburg police officers.

According to the East Bay Times, the FBI — which is investigating alleged fraud, bribery, drug distribution and civil rights violations related to the use of force in the department — found the messages after agents served search warrants on a number of officers’ homes.

Federal agents also showed up at the police department, seizing phones and other personal items.

At a March 30 news conference, Thorpe said several police officers have been placed on administrative leave due to policy violations.

However, Thorpe did not reveal any names or details of the investigation.

“To say that I am outraged is an understatement as it relates to this matter,” Thorpe told reporters.

Thorpe said he wasn’t sure about current police staffing levels. At least eight of the city’s then-57 police officers were under investigation last year for what the District Attorney’s Office said was related to “crimes of moral turpitude” involving Antioch and Pittsburg police officers.

The Pittsburg Police Department has said on social media that the investigation “involves several local police officers, including three current Pittsburg police officers.”

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