Acting Berkeley Police Department Chief Andrew Greenwood discussed the department’s goals and his visions for the upcoming year Monday with the business owners and community leaders at the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce.
During the meeting, Greenwood presented BPD’s list of strategic priorities that he and other ranking members of the department created. The list included crime, community engagement, employee wellness, professionalism and proper use of technology.
Greenwood emphasized using current technology effectively, such as encouraging officers to use their smartphones for more than just calls and use social media. He also said he would like to improve the vetting system for adopting new technologies to better analyze the costs and whether they align with the department’s priorities.
Greenwood took over the chief position Sept. 20 after Michael Meehan resigned. There are currently no ongoing searches for another long-term replacement. City spokesperson Matthai Chakko said in an email that Greenwood is a veteran of the department and is well-positioned to lead it at this time.
The biggest internal challenge that the department currently faces, Greenwood said, is chronic understaffing. He said that in 2017, they will increase staff by between 15 and 20 officers to 181 officers.
Berkeley Chamber of Commerce office manager Melinda Manning expressed concerns about how to train officers for Berkeley-specific issues, such as homelessness. She added that her fiance is an investigator for the Oakland Police Department and has very different day-to-day experiences than a BPD officer.
Greenwood responded saying that he is straightforward with new hires during their interviews about the challenges they would face in Berkeley. He also said the department had programs emphasizing mental health and other types of crises common in Berkeley.
“We’re on the right track in many ways … from chief Meehan’s administration with a focus on fair and impartial policing and the issue of understanding the science of implicit advice and how that informs what you do,” Greenwood said.
He added that the entire department has been through the daylong Crisis Intervention Training program, which teaches officers how to better de-escalate situations when dealing with people experiencing a mental health crisis.
To continue these discussions of department priorities, department leadership will have a retreat in December to define its mission, vision and values, according to Greenwood. Greenwood said he hopes to fill all of the currently empty positions on the team by this meeting so all of the future commanders will be a part of the discussions and on the same page.
“I’m interested in creating an environment … where people feel a purpose about what they’re doing,” Greenwood said. “And they know the command staff or the people above them (and) we’re on the same page about what we’re trying to do.”