The Berkeley City Council on Tuesday adopted a set of police reforms, over the objections of the Berkeley Police Association, which represents officers in the city’s police department.
“These groundbreaking reforms are aimed at eliminating unnecessary police stops and holding officers accountable,” Mayor Jesse Arreguin said on social media after the council vote.
Arreguin cited figures from the Center for Policing Equity that concluded Black people are 6.5 times more likely to be stopped by Berkeley officers than white persons while driving and 4.5 times more likely to be stopped while on foot.
New policies will include eliminating stops for low level offenses, requiring written consent for all consent searches, and ending requests for parole or probation status.
“This is a big problem for community safety,” Arreguin said. “Biased policing has implications for community trust. And communities that are less trusting or fearful of police are less safe because they do not report crimes.”
The police association, in a letter sent to the council before its vote Tuesday, said neither it nor officers on the beat were consulted during the creation of the new policies.
“At stake is the safety of Berkeley citizens and its police officers as the proposed reforms will turn officers into filing clerks, gutting their much-needed time on the streets within our community,” association President Sgt. Darren Kacelek said in the letter. “We want to work with our elected leaders and partners to strengthen the police-community relationship, but it can’t be a one-way street as the process of these recommendations suggest.”
Arreguin, however, said that eliminating unnecessary stops “will free up public safety resources enabling police to focus on priorities like violent crime.”