City Council postpones mutual aid decision at special meeting

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At its special meeting Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council heard input from community members regarding its contentious mutual aid pact but still made no decision regarding the approval of the pact.

The meeting, which first dealt with discussion on the West Berkeley Project, did not get to the mutual aid portion of the meeting until its final hour and did not allow enough time for discussion among council members.

The city’s mutual aid pact is a set of agreements between the Berkeley Police Department and other nearby security and law enforcement agencies that provides outside assistance when one agency lacks sufficient resources to address a situation.

Councilmembers Kriss Worthington and Jesse Arreguin along with Mayor Tom Bates proposed that the issue once again be considered by the city manager for a decision to be made in the next few months.

Berkeley Police Review Commission chair George Perezvelez said at the meeting that the commission is satisfied with the final recommendations of the mutual aid pact.

“After exhaustive community meetings in which 20 to 30 community members attended each time … the final vote lasted about three hours (at the commission meeting),” Perezvelez said. “Our recommendation as the police review commission is that this is a good compromise on what the city can do.”

Still, members of the Coalition for a Safe Berkeley and Berkeley Copwatch who spoke at the meeting felt there was more that could be done with the pact and asked the council to sever ties with some organizations involved in the pact, including the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center and the Urban Area Security Initiative. The department agreement with the initiative is not currently in writing for the pact.

“We need a written, not oral, agreement with the (Urban Area Security Initiative),” said Sharon Adams, a member of Berkeley Copwatch.

The council tentatively plans to hold a 5 p.m. special worksession followed by a special meeting for mutual aid on June 19.

Anjuli Sastry is an assistant news editor.