The City of Berkeley has an excellent police force, whose dedicated officers truly care about the community they serve. Over the past decade, crime rates in our city have dropped significantly, reflecting a national trend. However, this success has been tempered by an increase in the homeless population, which has diverted officer resources and left less time for patrols and special investigations. Mayor Arreguin understands that public safety is at the core of a thriving community and is committed to helping the Berkeley Police Department attract new officers. As part of this commitment, Mayor Arreguin voted in favor of a 7% pay increase in the new police contract, signed July 2018, which he hopes will encourage more officers to join the department.
Strengthening Community Relationships
In 2014, Mayor Arreguin introduced legislation to outfit every BPD officer with a body camera as a way of increasing trust between police and residents, and adding transparency to police work. Body cameras have been shown to decrease misconduct and use of force incidents, and will be required whenever police engage in a traffic stop or have other interactions with residents. The Mayor also hopes that body cameras will reduce racial disparities in police stops, searches and uses of force by the department identified in a 2016 report by the Center of Policing Equity, a non-partisan think tank.
Improving Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety
An estimated 17% of Berkeley residents walk and 10% bike to work. We need to create the infrastructure needed to promote safe streets for environmentally friendly forms of transportation. The Mayor is working with a group of safety experts on Vision Zero, which aims at eliminating pedestrian/cyclist fatalities and serious injuries. The 2019-20 budget provides funding for various traffic calming and safety projects in high risk roads. The Bike Plan aims to create a stronger network of bicycle boulevards, expanding safe biking options.
Addressing Wildfire Safety
With climate change creating more powerful wildfires in California, Mayor Arreguin has been working with state and regional leaders in reducing the risk of fires in Berkeley. One major initiative launched in 2019 is the North Orinda Fire Break, creating a barrier along the wildland-urban interface in the Berkeley Hills. The 2019-20 budget makes major investments in vegetation management and emergency preparedness and response. In August 2019, the City held its first large-scale wildfire evacuation drills, giving our first responders and residents at risk vital training. Berkeley is not stranger to wildfires, with major fires impacting the city in 1923 and 1991. Reducing risks and being prepared is essential to our safety.
Commitment to Restorative Justice
As part of his commitment to Berkeley’s young people, Mayor Arreguin is also working to expand restorative justice programs to divert young and non-violent offenders from the criminal justice system and give them a chance to learn from their mistakes. Our youth are our future and we must make sure that each and every one of them is given ample opportunity to succeed.