Berkeley Police Department issues record number of alcohol-related citations

Ethan Epstein/Senior Staff

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The Berkeley Police Department wrote 551 alcohol-related citations and made 17 in-custody arrests over the first two weekends of the semester, according to an email alert Wednesday.

During a nonconsecutive six-day period, BPD wrote citations for several offenses — such as possession of a fake ID and a minor in possession — and made arrests for public intoxication, petty theft, armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. Although the crimes took place throughout the city, the bulk of them were concentrated in the south campus area.

BPD and UCPD, in conjunction with 14 other law enforcement agencies, were able to conduct the arrests and citations because of a roughly $95,000 grant they jointly received from the California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control, or ABC. This grant provided them with the means to assign more officers to shifts over the two weekends.

“We do these types of enforcements over the course of the year, but the beginning of the school year is the largest concentration,” said BPD spokesperson Sgt. Andrew Frankel.

According to Frankel, over about the last decade there has been a trend of increased citations and arrests during the first two weekends of the school year — with this year’s numbers being the highest yet.

Over the same two-weekend period in 2015 and 2014, BPD wrote 423 and 329 citations, respectively. Similarly, during that time, the department made nine arrests in 2015, compared with the two arrests it made in 2014.

Frankel explained that the most likely reason for the substantial increase is that this year BPD had the largest number of officers participating in the enforcement project — over the entire six-day period, there was a total of 189 officers working.

Sabrina Reich, UCPD’s spokesperson, also said that during the first week back at school there is usually an increase of activity near the campus. As a result, she said, there are often more officers out patrolling and consequently, an increase in the number of arrests and tickets written.

Campus senior Isabella Brandes, the coordinator for [email protected], noted that although the number of citations were high this year, the campus is making major efforts to protect student safety and health.

Brandes said a group called First 8 — named after the first eight weeks of the year, which are the highest risk for student harm — consists of university, city and student leaders who have been meeting in preparation for the beginning of the school year. In one of these meetings, according to Brandes, there was mention of an increase in police presence on campus.

“I think that hearing that number is incredibly shocking,” Brandes said of the citations and arrest statistics. “In terms of increase in citations, it’s also important to look at that in terms of how many police are present.”

Chantelle Lee covers crime and courts. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ChantelleHLee.