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. The Mayor understands that public safety is at the core of a thriving community and is committed to helping the Berkeley Police Department attract new officers.
Strengthening Community Relationships
In 2014, the Mayor 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 the 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.
Alternatives to Urban Shield
The Berkeley City Council is also working to find an alternative to Urban Shield, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security training program that has been criticized by many as an unnecessary militarization of the police that does not train for natural disaster events. The city has created an Ad-Hoc Subcommittee that is studying alternative training programs to make sure our police are well-prepared to respond, whether there is an earthquake, a hostage situation or an act of terrorism.
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.