==There is a lot of discussion in the media and in the community about the vote that was taken at the City Council Meeting on Tuesday, July 14
th (actually the 15
th because we went until 3:00 a.m.) regarding efforts to reform the way policing is done in Berkeley. I read many news articles and received several emails that demonstrated a misunderstanding of what we actually voted to do. So let me explain and try to clear up the confusion by giving you an accurate summary of our actions.
==The City Council voted to support:
- A robust community engagement process to listen, learn, and gather anecdotal information from stakeholders, in order to figure out how to improve racial disparities in policing and improve public safety in general. I introduced this item and I am committed to improving communication and transparency and having honest discussions. Taking the time to reflect on our past and current practices and how we might change them is an essential first step towards reform.
- An audit and an analysis of data regarding police calls to begin a process to figure out how we can allow specialized units to respond to non-violent and non-emergency events in our city. (We know that currently 40% of police calls are for homeless-related incidents and may be better responded to by mental health professionals).
- Pursue the creation of a Berkeley Department of Transportation (BerkDOT) to eliminate racial profiling in traffic enforcement and the development of transportation policy, programs, and infrastructure.(There may be legal issues that make this difficult to achieve.)
- Identify and implement approaches to reduce and/or eliminate the practice of stops based on minor traffic violations or equipment problems. Our current data indicates that there are racial disparities in car stops and that Black and Latinx drivers are pulled over more frequently than Caucasian drivers.
DID NOT VOTE TO MOVE TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT OUT OF THE POLICE DEPARTMENT.
==We voted to explore the idea. There may be legal, safety, technical, and financial reasons why this idea will not work.
DID NOT VOTE TO DEFUND THE POLICE BY 50%.
==That motion was put forward by Council member Davila and failed.
DID NOT VOTE TO BAN OFFICERS FROM ENFORCING LAWS OR ARRESTING CRIMINALS IN VEHICLES
==I view Council's action on July 14 as an experiment to begin learning about new ways to provide policing in our community. I assure you that moving forward, my decisions will be
I will not support any action that is illegal or that poses a threat to your safety or the safety of our workers. All residents deserve to feel safe in their homes, in their cars, and in their city. Parents need to feel that their children are safe in schools and on neighborhood streets. All people need to feel that they are being treated equally.
==I personally feel that we have a very fine Police Chief and a well educated, well trained Police department. There may be new models for policing that will better serve our community. Investigating and exploring new ideas and committing ourselves to fair and impartial practices are positive and necessary steps that need to start now. Berkeley is not immune to the bias and prejudice that is systemic in our country.