Public Comment

Berkeley/Albany/UC Police Want Armored Vehicle

By Gene Bernardi SuperBOLD, Berkeley
Friday May 18, 2012 - 12:29:00 PM

Three North Alameda County Police Departments; Berkeley, U.C. and Albany, known as the North County Tactical Working Group (NCTWG) have identified common concerns which have “a nexus to terrorism”. Mentioned are these large incidents: Cal Games, Solano Stroll and “in progress crimes or warrant services”. The plan is to request funding for an Armored Tactical Intervention Vehicle from the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) a Homeland Security program now in place in Berkeley, and apparently the adjoining agencies. 

The UASI and NCRIC, (No. Calif. Regional Intelligence Center) programs, merely verbal agreements with the FBI and Homeland Security, and which are said to be linked, are now up for renewal by the Berkeley City Council. The core of NCRIC is the sending of Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) based on non-criminal behaviors; photographing a building, writing in a notebook, wearing a headscarf, etc., to a data fusion center. Mayor Bates postponed the Council’s consideration of these and other police department agreements to a Special Meeting on Tuesday May 22, 8pm. 

A local politician was questioning how we might get funds for “equipment” without fully participating in the funding agency’s (UASI’s) program under which Urban Warfare exercises (“competitions”) are conducted with local police departments. We wondered what more equipment the riotclad police, witnessed at Occupy demonstrations, needed? Now we know; an Armored Tactical Intervention Vehicle known as Lenco BearCat. 

The NCTWG states their goal is to “enhance their ability to disrupt, investigate and apprehend criminals”. If persons are “known” to have committed a crime, they should be immediately arrested and charged. How would you feel being near an armored vehicle whose occupants have the ongoing capacity to “investigate” the surrounding activity, and the capacity to shoot without fear of identification or harm? 

To meet the all consuming need for equipment, unmanned drones may be next. Small versions hovering over “large incidents” such as Big Bank demonstrations will pose no threat to police, operating them remotely. 

If you are concerned about the ever growing Surveillance Society and the militarization of our police departments, please attend and express your views at the Special City Council Meeting Tuesday, May 22, 8pm at 2134 M.L. King Jr. Way, Berkeley