With the general election less than a week away, the Berkeley Police Association’s political action committee filed an independent expenditure report Monday detailing that it has spent about $16,700 on mailers in support of Laurie Capitelli’s mayoral campaign.
In August, Capitelli was among four local candidates endorsed by BPA, which cited Capitelli’s voting record in support of the police and fire departments as part of the reason for its support. Capitelli is currently leading fundraising in the mayoral race, with more than $117,000 in monetary contributions thus far.
According to Laura Curlin, data director at MapLight, a local nonprofit that researches political contributions, the city of Berkeley does not allow coordination between parties that file independent expenditures and the candidates they are supporting.
When contacted about the expenditure, Capitelli said he did not know about it or the campaign materials it funded.
According to its Facebook page, BPA looked for candidates to endorse based on who demonstrated commitment to policies such as increasing the police force and strengthening police and neighborhood relations. BPA could not be reached for comment.
Capitelli said he has recently put forward a measure to increase the police force by four officers. He added that he wants to see the implementation of the recently authorized police body camera program and “to get police out of their cars and on the streets” to better understand the communities and neighborhoods on their beats.
“I want (the police) in their everyday interactions with citizens to be civil and transparent, as benign as possible in terms of who and where they enforce the law,” Capitelli said.
Andrea Prichett, a founding member of Berkeley Copwatch, a local group dedicated to monitoring police actions, said she was concerned about the expenditure and believes Capitelli will be “beholden” to the BPA.
“It would be great to see a candidate who supports evidence-based policing, identifying who is actually committing crimes” Prichett said. “Unfortunately, no one is providing that kind of accountability.”