The Berkeley Police Department, or BPD, launched its Transparency Hub on May 25 to foster accountability and honesty with the Berkeley community.
BPD Chief Jennifer Louis said in a statement that the Hub’s purpose is to provide people with tools to “better understand and visualize the public safety work that the department undertakes.”
“I think oftentimes the conversation around policing revolves around national trends or maybe at the state level,” said BPD Data and Policy Analyst Arlo Malmberg. “There is a lot of value in being able to have the numbers and a sense of what is going on at a very local level.”
According to Malmberg, the Transparency Hub was proposed by the Fair and Impartial Policing Task Force back in February to make stop data accessible to the public. However, the BPD decided to include additional data sets on calls for service and use of force, noting that the crime mapper feature is under development.
Louis noted in the statement that the Hub also includes information collected as part of the California Racial and Identity Profiling Act.
“These are data that would have been publicly available in different forms throughout the years, but we are making it more accessible in a number of ways,” Malmberg said.
He said the Transparency Hub is divided into two sections: data and community engagement. Through the data-oriented pages, users can set filters to answer customizable questions.
Malmberg added that the data pages refresh around midnight, allowing users to access data on police activity in real time.
“The idea here is not to answer those questions directly that somebody might have, but to give every community member the opportunity to answer the questions for themselves,” Malmberg said.
Andrea Prichett, the founder of Copwatch, said one of the most critical pieces of information to evaluate police is their use of force. However, she noted the Transparency Hub does not “provide that much information” about the outcome of a given incident and whether the use of force was justified.
Prichett added the Hub is a “positive step toward transparency” but requires improvement.
“If Chief Louis is serious about being transparent then I would love to see some improvement in the public’s access to police reports,” Prichett said. “I would like to see the police accountability board able to read use of force reports in their entirety.”
Malmberg described the Transparency Hub as a “living document,” noting that the department will continue to make updates as they receive community feedback.
He added that there is a survey link at the bottom of every page.
“It is mostly to give the community an easier way of investigating, analyzing and understanding what the police department is up to and how their time is being spent,” Malmberg said.