Mayor Arreguín, Councilmember Davila host community meeting to discuss public safety in light of recent shooting

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Karen Chow/Senior Staff

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Mayor Jesse Arreguín and Berkeley City Councilmember Cheryl Davila held a community meeting of about 70 people Tuesday evening to address the Aug. 18 San Pablo Park shooting, where three male victims were shot and injured.

There were various groups of people partaking in different events at the park during the time of the shooting, according to Berkeley Police Chief Andrew Greenwood. The city of Berkeley will invest $2.45 million in park improvements, according to Davila.

One vehicle pulled up at the south end of the park where the intended victim was shot Aug. 18. In the gunfire, two other people were also hit. Greenwood said during the meeting that BPD does not have a suspect in custody and is still looking for the perpetrators.

At the meeting, several proposals were made to increase community safety, including access to the community center in emergencies, more mentorship and vocational programs for youth, training for racial justice and implicit bias, more lights and signage to deter crime, and increased police presence at the park.

“Berkeley is going to be investing about $2.45 million in park improvements, including upgrading the bathrooms, the basketball courts and tennis courts,” Davila said during the meeting. “During the redesigning of the community center, we will be looking … at surveillance cameras around the bathrooms and parks.”

A few residents proposed the idea of San Pablo Park being assigned its own police officer because of the level of crime around the park.

This idea, however, was refuted by a few other community members who argued that adding an officer would be a deterrent for residents to enjoy the park.

Greenwood said they will consider surveillance cameras and signage at the park, but it may not be the best way to reduce crime.

“I think (cameras) are valuable in terms of gathering evidence,” Greenwood said. “But I’m also just being real — we are not going to be watching that so much (as) using it as a resource after the fact.”

According to Arreguín, the Parks, Recreation and Waterfront Department is now requiring people to file permits in order to reserve certain picnic areas.

Although no concrete decisions were made at the meeting, Arreguín said all options would be considered in the future.

“Ultimately my goal is — once we have more stable staffing in the police department — is to increase patrols to expand our community programs and look particularly at the vision of a crime suppression unit,” Arreguín said at the meeting. “Please know that we are working to respond to this specific crime, to pursue specific strategies, to ensure longer term safety of this neighborhood and to work on better structural changes to strengthen our policing efforts.”

Contact Mani Sandhu at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ManiSandhu24.