Berkeley Police Association spends thousands campaigning against City Council candidate Kate Harrison

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The Berkeley Police Association, or BPA, has spent more than $15,000 campaigning against City Council candidate Kate Harrison — more than twice as much as the association has spent in support of candidates Lori Droste and Rashi Kesarwani combined.

According to NetFile documents, BPA has spent a total of $21,418.22 on campaign mailers and mail files in opposition to Harrison and in support of Droste and Kesarwani. Of that money, the association spent $15,247.51 in opposition to District 4 candidate and incumbent Harrison, $1,769.56 in support of District 1 candidate Kesarwani and $4,401.15 in support of District 8 candidate and incumbent Droste.

“The BPA is concerned because Kate Harrison believes in accountability, and she has proven to be smart and capable and is an advocate of good governance,” said Andrea Prichett, member of the Berkeley Police Review Commission, or PRC, and co-founder of Berkeley Copwatch.

According to BPA’s website, the group was founded in 1953 by sworn officers of the Berkeley Police Department. The association currently comprises 167 officers and has a goal of partnering with the community to create safe neighborhoods.

According to Prichett, Harrison has been a staunch advocate for police accountability. Harrison said she believes BPA is targeting her because of her belief that the current PRC needs improvement and needs to become a more powerful investigatory body.

District 4 candidate Ben Gould said in an email that he believes Harrison has been a “disappointment for our community.” But Mayor Jesse Arreguín released a press release rebutting many criticisms of Harrison, some of which were found in accusatory flyers that have recently been circulating.

Based on information from NetFile, BPA has used funds to send mailers in favor of other candidates in the past. Leading up to the 2016 election, BPA contributed approximately $18,000 to send mailers in support of District 5 candidate Stephen Murphy. Murphy lost to Councilmember Sophie Hahn.

Prichett added that after the Center for Policing Equity released reports indicating bias in policing, Harrison wanted an action plan from BPD. While Harrison said she thinks Berkeley has an “excellent” police department, she expressed concern about whether individuals feel confident that their complaints will be heard. Harrison added that the public needs to feel that there is a place where it can report police abuse.

Prichett said Harrison wants to see the police held accountable for their actions.

“They’re afraid of her. She holds their feet to the fire,” Prichett said. “She follows up.”

BPA could not be reached for comment as of press time.

Contact Ronit Sholkoff at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @RonitSholkoff.

Clarification(s):
A previous version of this article may have implied that Kate Harrison wants the Police Review Commission to obtain the power to hire and fire police officers. In fact, she does not support this idea.