Berkeley Police Department awarded grant from CA Highway Patrol’s cannabis tax fund

photo of a wine bottle and car keys
Anthony Angel Pérez/Staff
The Berkeley Police Department was awarded a grant from the Cannabis Tax Fund Grant Program which will fund additional training programs such as drug recognition and field sobriety testing.

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The Berkeley Police Department was awarded a grant in July from the Cannabis Tax Fund Grant Program, operated by the California Highway Patrol, or CHP, to fund additional training, education and enforcement initiatives related to impaired driving.

The funds, which amount to $135,462, will be used for training programs such as drug recognition and field sobriety testing, as well as community educational initiatives and increased DUI enforcement, according to BPD spokesperson Officer Byron White.

The Cannabis Tax Fund Grant Program was established in response to the 2016 passage of California Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which set aside a portion of cannabis tax revenues for the CHP to disburse to local communities, according to a CHP press release.

“We anticipate that we’ll be able to staff an additional eight patrols with two officers in each of them each quarter of the grant,” White said.

He noted that the training will be in addition to the training that officers are already required to receive at police academies.

It is not clear yet how many hours of additional training the funding will support, White said, since costs depend on the demand for training within the department, the location of the training and whether paying overtime will be required to fill in officer’s shifts during training. Training is provided by third-party organizations such as police academies, private consultants, the California Peace Officers Association and the California Office of Traffic Safety.

The competitive grant for the fiscal year 2021-22 awarded $17 million total, split between approximately $10.7 million for city and county toxicology laboratories and $6.3 million for local law enforcement agencies, according to a CHP announcement. The CHP announced grant awards to 33 California departments, with amounts ranging from $17,000 for the Simi Valley Police Department to just under $1 million for the Los Angeles Police Department.

“We’re a smaller agency,” White said. “It’s helpful to get funds like this so that we can get officers out overtime.”

This is the first year the BPD has received funds from the CHP cannabis fund, according to White.

Funding for traffic safety initiatives typically comes from the Office of Traffic Safety, a state agency, White said. The Office of Traffic Safety also awarded the BPD two grants for a combined $245,000 for 2021, according to an announcement from the Office of Traffic Safety.

The funding from the CHP cannabis fund funding has not yet been discussed by the Police Accountability Board, said Katherine J. Lee, interim director of police accountability, in an email.

Franklin Zimring, Berkeley Law professor and faculty director of the Criminal Justice Studies program, noted that impaired driving is a chronic problem for every police department and said this level of funding does not necessarily translate into measurable impacts on impaired driving.

“It will be a modest supplement,” Zimring said. “The best thing that can be said is that it won’t hurt and that it’s a mildly affirmative administrative event.”

Contact Alexander Wohl at [email protected], and follow him on Twitter at @dc_arwohl.