For the first time in 11 years, the Berkeley city auditor’s office will conduct an audit of the Berkeley Police Department’s staffing and budget.
The audit will consist of a deep analysis of department workings, which will be used to inform recommendations for the police department to implement in order to be more effective and efficient. The city auditor is funded by the City Council, with a budget approved each year.
“An audit is an evaluation that looks at a program’s service or operations,” said Berkeley city auditor Jenny Wong. “The purpose is to identify ways that things can be improved.”
Wong added that different city departments are selected each year to be audited based on community interest and discussion with the City Council, as well as staff including the city manager.
The city auditor’s office is independently elected and submits an audit plan every fiscal year. Berkeley City Council approved the most recent plan during its June 30 meeting.
“Having an independent auditor is an essential part of having a transparent city government,” said Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín in an email. “Over the past month, our community has called for ways we can re-imagine public safety, and I appreciate City Auditor Jenny Wong stepping up to take on this important work.”
For the upcoming fiscal year, the police department was chosen to be examined based on interest from the public and the City Council.
As requested by Councilmember Ben Bartlett and members of the community, the audit will include an analysis of BPD’s call data in order to study what types of calls are coming in and whether they can potentially be diverted to other entities.
“There could be instances in which some of the needs can be provided by others,” Wong said. “I’m hoping that our analysis will help inform the council — who are the decision-makers — in making informed decisions about what to do next associated with the police department.”
Information compiled in the audit will be used to formulate recommendations for BPD on how to improve functioning.
While the city auditor cannot enforce these recommendations, they are typically implemented by the department in question or by Berkeley City Council, according to Wong.
“By working with subject matter experts on this, we can obtain and analyze appropriate data that will benefit our community’s critical conversation as we look to the future of public safety policy,” Arreguín said in the email.
Currently, the city auditor’s office is finishing other audits, including ones regarding Berkeley streets and the library. Wong added that the BPD audit will begin in a few months.