ANTIOCH -- Police officials will host a meeting on Saturday aimed at discussing public safety issues with residents, particularly prevalent issues in the city's growing Latino community.

A Spanish-language version of the Coffee with the Cops program will be held 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday at Holy Rosary Church, 1313 A St.

Police Chief Allan Cantando said a goal of the meeting is "to address the needs of all Antioch citizens," by helping them overcome obstacles such as language barriers and misunderstandings of what the department and officers do.

"We want all residents to be part of the solution in reducing crime," said Cantando, who will use a translator from Contra Costa Superior Court at the meeting.

Although Latinos now make up about a third of the city's population, most residents don't or wouldn't attend the normal quarterly Coffee with the Cops meetings, Mayor Pro Tem Mary Rocha said.

"It's not that they don't care, it's that they don't feel a connection," Rocha said. "It's important to have the chief come out and try to gain that trust, present himself and say I'm here to hear you. Then, maybe they'll want to get involved."

The first Spanish-language-focused Coffee with the Cops drew about 200 families, Rocha said. Having it at the church provides an additional comfort level for families, she said.

Saturday's meeting will start with an initial introduction and overview of the city's crime issues, followed by an informal question-and-answer session.


Advertisement

Cantando said he will also give an update on a possible program to help reformed gang members remove tattoos from their face, hands and face, a topic that came up at the first Spanish-language Coffee with the Cops meeting last October.

Rocha hopes one result from the meeting is encouraging Latino residents, especially those in the neighborhood near Antioch Middle School, to band together and form Neighborhood Watch groups.

Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.