Explaining My Vote on Urban Shield

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I want to take this opportunity to explain the reasons why I changed my vote on the issue of our Police Department participating in the 2018 Urban Shield exercise.

For the past year, the Council Ad-Hoc Subcommittee on Urban Shield has worked extensively to research the Urban Shield program, and our Berkeley Police Department’s training needs.

It is very frustrating that we were informed so late in the process that there are legal constraints on the ability of the City Council to direct our Police to not participate in Urban Shield. These issues only came to light after the Subcommittee’s initial vote to recommend suspension of Police participation in the program.

I have strong objections to the current Urban Shield program - including the role of military technology vendors, the presence of foreign military agencies, the weapons expo, the militarized tactics, the presence of ICE in the exercise, the racist elements, and the need for focus on regional threats and community preparedness. There is clearly a need for significant reform of the program.

However, in light of procedural concerns, recommending termination is not appropriate for the Council.

Despite this setback, I am confident in our ability to shape the future of this program. The Subcommittee has submitted an extensive list of recommendations on what can be done to ensure the program falls in line with our Berkeley values. I am committed to removing militarized exercises while maintaining high caliber trainings for our exceptional first responders, greater regional coordination, and better emergency preparedness.

Jesse Arreguin