Police Review Commission discusses report revealing rise in violent crime

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Micah Carroll/File

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The Police Review Commission met Wednesday to discuss the Berkeley city crime report that was released early this month — a report which detailed a significant increase of 17.9 percent in instances of violent crime.

The report stated that despite an overall decrease in city crime, 2016 saw an increase in incidents of rape, robbery and aggravated assault. During the meeting, PRC commissioners questioned the causes behind these increases and the closure rates for cases investigated by Berkeley Police Department.

Commissioner Terry Roberts asked BPD Acting Chief Andrew Greenwood at the meeting about possible reasons for increased instances of aggravated assaults. According to the report, aggravated assault has been on the rise since 2012 and has increased by 34.8 percent in 2016.

“We seem to be running into more incidents of violence on the street,” Greenwood said at the meeting. “It’s hard to say exactly what’s going on. … It feels like we’re getting more of those though — aggravated assaults from people on the street.”

Greenwood also said at the meeting that the rise in cases of aggravated assaults may be tied to increasing numbers of people living on the street. He added that these assaults often seem to be tied to emotional or uncontrolled responses from perpetrators.

“We looked at this data in different kinds of ways to give us a better sense of what themes or patterns we might find in aggravated assault,” Bernstein said. “I thought that there were a lot of good ideas.”

According to Greenwood, BPD is attempting to reduce crime by maintaining an awareness of individuals who are repeated offenders.

“Certain individuals … can have a tremendous impact on victimizing the community,” Greenwood said at the meeting.

Commissioner Andrea Prichett inquired about BPD’s case closure rate, which was not provided in the original report. She also asked how often the evidence at crime scenes is processed and collected.

During the meeting, the commission discussed homeless encampments and property confiscation from homeless encampments. PRC will be making inquiries regarding the legal basis for confiscations of property, and it will be in contact with City Council.

Additionally, the commission discussed the possibility of holding BPD responsible for preventing the construction of future encampments, and the resurrection of encampments that had previously been deconstructed.

“I just think that expecting the BPD to prevent re-encampment is inviting trouble — inviting violations of people’s rights,” Prichett said.

The commission also discussed the upcoming Center for Policing Equity report on stop-force data, which will be released in the upcoming months.

Contact Shayann Hendricks at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @shayannih.