Our community relies upon a large network of firefighters, paramedics, mental health professionals, community service providers, and police officers to ensure health and safety in our community.
However, this network is at risk of deterioriating. With dozens of unfilled police and fire positions, applications for openings at a historic low, and 80% of police officers considering leaving the force, our public safety network is in jeopardy.
At the same time, we're seeing increasing demand for service as new residents, housed and unhoused alike, place more strain on our firefighters; and double-digit increases in violent crime require police officers capable of intervening safely in dangerous situations. In just the last year, our community has grappled with headlines such as:
The root causes and motivators of crime are complex, and while it's important we continue working to ensure nobody is pushed into crime for economic, drug addition, or mental health reasons, we ultimately rely upon our police officers to respond to incidents of violence in our community.
Our police department is currently short-staffed. Despite budgeting for 180 officers, the department has nearly two dozen vacancies. Recruitment challenges mean our community is without a drug task force or dedicated foot or bike patrols, leaving community members and neighbors at risk.
Meanwhile, our firefighters are handling a continually increasing volume of calls without adding additional capacity. Alta Bates hospital is slated for closure, and keeping it open requires finding resources to ensure it will survive a major eartquake.
Our first responders have been ill-served by the incumbent in District 4. According to the Berkeley Police Association, the incumbent City Councilmember "...has made no effort to seek input from law enforcement and [has] supported policies that de-professionalize and demoralize the department." These policies "...would put unqualified activists in charge of core police functions, remove critical emergency training and place neighbors at risk of property damage."
As District 4 neighbor Eric Friedman wrote, "We have the funding to staff up. What we lack are elected officials who are committed — in word and in deed — to fostering a professional setting where today’s top talent wants to work. Officers have choices, like everyone else in this very tight labor market, and like all of us they want to work in places where they are supported and where their professionalism and dedication are respected."
For firefighters, Berkeley lacks adequate training facilities and has yet to modernize our dispatch center. We need to revisit how we dispatch our first responders, to ensure we're sending the right resources to the right calls. Without better resource allocation, our first responders will be unable to deal with increasing call volume in coming years.
Ensuring public safety in our community and our neighborhoods
As a member of the Police Review Commission, I worked with the community and our police officers to ensure effective police oversight. As a legislative aide, I attended police trainings and saw Berkeley Police Department practice their de-escalation and anti-bias techniques. As your Councilmember, I'll continue to ensure effective oversight while supporting our first responders in protecting every member of our community
Policy goals: Reducing violent crime in our Downtown and improving public safety for all community residents.
How we get there:
Why this works: Our first responders are held to high standards, and they have historically excelled at performing the demanding jobs we ask of them in ways that provide safety and security for all members of our community. This is a track record to build off of and support, and working collaboratively to ensure they have training and resources while ensuring fair and professional oversight will help continue that success.