Police Back on the Beat

Crime in Berkeley.

Crime continues to be a pressing concern for South Berkeley. Too many community members don’t feel safe in their own neighborhood. I support bringing back the beat cops, walking the streets.

The young civil rights leaders of this moment are speaking out--Black Lives Matter--. “Hands Up, Don’t Shot” -- “When We Die In Police Custody, Know That It Was Not A Suicide” -- Black Families Matter. We must acknowledge the Alameda County judicial, economic, social inequities. We have a responsibility here in Berkeley, as the city hallmark of diversity to address these issues and be held accountable for our civic decisions in addressing judicial, economic and social injustice locally.

I want to acknowledge the progress that the Berkeley Police Department has made on diversity, and on training more officers in crisis intervention. Yet there continues to be an uneasy relationship between communities of color and the police. We can do more. I support bringing back the beat cop, walking the streets. Police officers who walk a regular beat have a greater opportunity to build rapport and establish trust in the community. This safe street method is can also be an effective crime deterrent.

I believe in community policing.The Richmond Police has reduced crime by 30 percent over 10 years through a community policing approach, and some of their strategies can inform our work here in Berkeley. Their approach is to involve all the police officers in community policing — taking steps so officers get to know residents, participate in schools and other community events. They’ve also been retraining officers in communications skills, like dealing with people of different cultures. The force there is now 60 percent people of color, much closer to reflecting the community they serve.

When I was on the Zoning Adjustment Board in the early 2000s, we used zoning rules and community pressure to address growing crime and loitering along Sacramento Street. There were drug transactions going on openly on the street, and lots of calls to police. Through collaborative efforts from the community, Berkeley Police Department and the Zoning Adjustments Board one of the tools we used was to pull the business permits of some of the liquor stores and other businesses along that artery where the drug trafficking was going on. We cleaned that area up. It’s been good for the community and we must continue on this path.

Paid for by Deborah Matthews 2016 for Berkeley City Council D-3 | FPPC ID # 1383330