Task force created to review city’s public safety policies

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Applications for the Reimagining Public Safety Task Force, created in an effort to review the city’s current approach to community safety, are open and will be due Feb. 8. Three members will be picked at large.

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Applications for the Reimagining Public Safety Task Force, created in an effort to review the city’s current approach to community safety, are open and will be due Feb. 8.

The task force will consist of 17 members, with nine representatives appointed by the mayor and each member of Berkeley City Council. The Mental Health Commission, Police Review Commission and Youth Commission will each appoint one member, as will the ASUC and Berkeley Community Safety Coalition. The last three members will be selected through the application process.

“Low-income residents and communities of color, particularly queer and trans people of color, are the most impacted by traditional law enforcement practices, and historically have been excluded from policymaking and accountability processes,” said city councilmember Terry Taplin in an email.

Taplin added that the task force will provide an opportunity for the city to have a more representative body creating public safety policies that address the needs of the community at large.

The task force hopes to include members with experience in violence prevention, restorative justice, public health and law enforcement, among other qualifications. According to the task force proposal, the task force may also include faith-based community leaders and union representatives.

After the Black Lives Matter protests following George Floyd’s death, the city committed to reimagining public safety in July 2020, according to Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín. He added that the city council voted Dec. 15, 2020, to establish the task force.

According to the proposal, the July commitment did not provide specifics like the exact structure of the task force or an appointment process. The force will be referred to as the “Reimagining Public Safety Task Force” to avoid confusion with an independent community organization that formed under a similar name.

The task force will conduct research, such as analysis of new public safety programs and practices, in order to create a “holistic, anti-racist approach” to community safety, according to Arreguín.

Arreguín added that the task force’s recommendations for a new, community-centered safety model will be used as the foundation for “deep and lasting change.”

“By soliciting applications to this task force from a representative portion of the community, we hope public safety policy going forward can more faithfully reflect the needs and concerns of the community at large,” Taplin said in an email.

Contact Anishi Patel at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @anishipatel.