Major crime in Berkeley has decreased by 10 percent in the last six months, according to the 2018 midyear crime report presented by the Berkeley Police Department at City Council’s regular Tuesday meeting.
BPD Chief Andrew Greenwood and Capt. Ed Spiller both presented the crime report, announcing that crime reports for the first six months of 2018 regarding aggravated assault, auto theft, larceny, rape and robbery are down compared to the first six months of 2017. According to the report, there have also been no homicides, although reports of burglary and arson have increased.
According to Greenwood, along with the midyear report, BPD was referred to provide a report on stop data collection. According to Greenwood, BPD was unable to provide this report because of a decrease in staffing that began last November.
“This past summer turned out to be extremely challenging,” Greenwood said during the meeting. “Our resources were completely stretched — every officer, in fact, with every staff member working multiple overtime shifts to ensure that the patrol shifts were staffed.”
According to the report, BPD has implemented several strategies to combat this lack of staffing, including the formation of a recruitment team. Greenwood said at the meeting that the team now comprises three sergeants and one officer who are tasked with attending job fairs and other in-person activities as well as completing the staff work necessary to gain resources needed by BPD. Greenwood said BPD hopes to hire 35 new members within the next year and a half.
Greenwood also reported the implementation of the Body Worn Camera Program. He said during the meeting that training and distribution began last Monday, and since then about 130 officers have been trained. According to Greenwood, the remaining officers — including Greenwood — are scheduled for training Wednesday afternoon.
Berkeley community members voiced their concerns regarding the crime report at the meeting. Some said “racial bias continues to happen” and that complaints are not filed because people “do not trust the BPD review methods” and that if they report, “nothing will happen.”
“I just want to reiterate what was said in the audience in which people are afraid to come forward,” Councilmember Cheryl Davila said. “I hear that a lot from (my) constituents, mostly from people of color.”
Councilmember Davila also proposed a performance audit to better understand how BPD spends its time. “It’s something the community would like to know,” she said.
Also at the meeting, a second reading for an amended franchise agreement with IKE Smart City regarding installments of up to 31 advertisement kiosks in Berkeley was adopted and set for the next regular meeting. But adopting this agreement would go against city policy prohibiting encroachments on public property.
“I believe the code changes we are asked to make are huge and can set possible precedents,” Councilmember Sophie Hahn said during the meeting. “They go against long-standing policies.”
At the meeting, a referral to the Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Product Panel of Experts on doubling the general tax was moved to consent calendar and approved at the meeting.