City Council to discuss anti-displacement public advocate, BPD policies

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Mitzi Perez/File

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Berkeley City Council will meet Tuesday evening to discuss the establishment of an office tasked with preventing the displacement of Berkeley residents, as well as a number of resolutions concerning Berkeley Police Department’s policies.

A recommendation by councilmembers Ben Bartlett, Cheryl Davila and Kate Harrison as well as Mayor Jesse Arreguín calls for the establishment of an Office of the Anti-Displacement Public Advocate, or APA. The office would seek to prevent the displacement of Berkeley cultural institutions, small business and non-profits by providing community outreach and advocacy to members at risk of being displaced, according to the resolution.

“Ben Bartlett deserves all the credit for that (recommendation). He came up with the idea and then he’s working with the city manager to come up with funding,” said Councilmember Kriss Worthington. “We should move forward with it immediately.”

Harrison, who co-sponsored the resolution, said that displacement doesn’t happen all at once — rather, it happens over a long period of time. Harrison added that she is hopeful the resolution will pass.

The council will also be discussing a recommendation that requires BPD officers to wear video cameras in an effort to support police accountability, according to the resolution authored by Bartlett, Worthington, Arreguín and Councilmember Sophie Hahn. Worthington said because this recommendation is widely accepted, it will likely pass at Tuesday’s meeting.

Police Review Commissioner George Perezvelez said the item must be supported, as it was part of the 2017 settlement agreement from a 2015 lawsuit filed against the city over alleged police brutality during the December 2014 Black Lives Matter protests. Perezvelez said the only concern for the council is figuring out proper storage and operating costs for the cameras after the money has been appropriated.

Also on the agenda is a resolution concerning the relationship between BPD and the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center, or NCRIC, which centralizes information on suspicious activity reports. Perezvelez said the council will discuss whether BPD should continue to participate in this program. PRC voted to recommend the renewal of BPD’s collaboration with NCRIC on March 8.

Harrison said BPD needs intelligence collected by the federal government, but she doesn’t want intelligence to be misused. Perezvelez also said some community members are concerned about the partnership with NCRIC because they fear that access to this information could lead to profiling.

“I think that the city of Berkeley has enough systems in place to ensure that there isn’t abuse in terms of reporting but I think there are concerns about other agencies at large and how they report,” Perezvelez said. “The major concern is, under the Trump administration, that the suspicious activity reports could be used in violation of first amendment rights.”

The council will convene for its regular meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Contact Carina Zhao at [email protected].