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Berkeley Police Department staff shortage leads to cut in patrol assignments

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The department has transitioned from a 16-beat to a 14-beat configuration.


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APRIL 05, 2023

A staffing shortage at the Berkeley Police Department, or BPD, has led to a cut in patrol assignments.

While the department previously operated on a 16-beat configuration, it has transitioned to a 14-beat map.

On Saturday, City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley sent a memo addressed to Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín and city council members announcing this reconfiguration.

“The transition to the new beat configuration is due to decreased police staffing, leading to consistently understaffed shifts,” Williams-Ridley wrote in the memo.

The new beat configurations were created through “collaborative review” from the city’s Strategic Analysis Unit, Berkeley Police Association and BPD itself, according to the memo.

Williams-Ridley reported that factors including “geography of calls for service volume,” time required for officers on the scene to respond to calls and investigative time for these calls were considered.

However, the department expects continued low staffing to “impact service delivery, response time, and ability to handle in-depth problem-solving” despite this reconfiguration.

According to BPD Officer Jessica Perry, there is a noticeable difference between minimum patrol staffing and full staffing for all of the beats.

Perry explained in an email that BPD is “not currently on mandatory staffing” and that volunteering officers will fill a patrol team if it falls short of minimum staffing requirements.

“We have a minimum staffing number for each patrol team. If the team falls short of the minimum staffing number (i.e. sick calls) then it is filled with overtime. During day time hours when the department has officers working in other assignments, officers can assist with patrol and fill a beat as well,” Perry said in the email.

Currently, each patrol team has two sergeants and eight to 10 officers, according to Perry.

Perry stated there was no available information regarding the current budget or cost savings.

“At face value, one body was cut from each patrol team, seven bodies a week, this in itself is a cost saving. The department is currently working to finalize the firm to conduct a staffing study,” Perry said in the email.

The staffing study, according to Perry, will be completed in nine to 12 months after the firm is finalized.

However, Berkeley Copwatch, a volunteer organization devoted to monitoring BPD’s actions, does not believe its staff shortage was transparent enough.

“(BPD) has failed to provide a basis for any of their staffing decisions, whether that is dependent on crime statistics or the population of the city,” said a member of Berkeley Copwatch in an email. “We very much doubt any change to the beat system will impact crime in the city, because policing doesn’t seem to impact crime in this city.”

Contact Joann Moon at 


APRIL 05, 2023