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Press Release: Berkeley Residents Urge Police Reforms

From George Lippman, Coalition for a Safe Berkeley
Friday May 18, 2012 - 04:59:00 PM

A coalition of Berkeley residents and civil rights groups will return to the City Council on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 8 pm in Old City Hall, 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley, in support of protections for civil rights and civil liberties in local policing. On May 15, the Council postponed for one week consideration of recommendations to increase civilian oversight of the Berkeley Police Department (BPD). 

Under Berkeley law, the City Council must approve all agreements between the BPD and outside law enforcement agencies. During a review of these agreements and policies in February 2012, members of the Council expressed concern about the City’s participation in federal programs that share non-criminal intelligence and provide paramilitary training to local police departments. The Council asked the Police Review Commission (PRC) to review existing agreements and certain internal BPD policies, and make recommendations to the City Council.  

On April 11, 2012, the PRC voted to recommend that the City should: (1) NOT allow BPD to renew its agreements with two federal law enforcement agencies unless specific conditions are met; (2) amend Berkeley’s Jail Policy to limit ICE detainers to specific criminal situations; (3) amend Berkeley’s Criminal Intelligence Policy to protect speech, assembly, political and religious freedom; and (4) amend Berkeley’s Mutual Aid Policy to evaluate whether to respond to mutual aid requests from other jurisdictions when the request is a reaction to First Amendment activity in the other jurisdiction.  

According to Diana Bohn, a member of the Coalition for A Safe Berkeley, a group of local residents and civil rights groups that have been advocating for these reforms, “Currently, BPD has secret agreements with federal agencies, and it seems that these so-called ‘Homeland Security’ agreements take priority over real public safety. The City Council also has the opportunity to reaffirm Berkeley’s commitment as a City of Refuge. The Council should direct the police to stop turning innocent people over to ICE, based on ICE civil detainers. On May 22 the City Council has the opportunity to increase civilian oversight of local police, and to ensure that the highest priority of the Berkeley Police Department is protecting public safety.” 







The Coalition for a Safe Berkeley urges the City Council to direct the BPD to: 


  • Sever ties with the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center (NCRIC), the locus of suspicious activity reporting. In contravention of city law, the BPD has made available no written agreement with NCRIC.
  • End the submission, to any outside law enforcement agencies, of Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) about people who have not been charged with a crime; and about people who have been charged with offenses arising out of non-violent CD offenses.
  • Sever ties with the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI). As with NCRIC, no written agreement with UASI has been released. UASI is the major funder of NCRIC. UASI is also the conduit for Berkeley’s participation in the Urban Shield program, which has been criticized as a militaristic and anti-dissent model for local policing.
  • Call on UC Berkeley to follow the City’s police procedures when operating within our jurisdiction. In particular, UC should adopt the City’s policy against car impoundment for failure to produce a driver’s license.
  • Modify the Mutual Aid policy to refrain from responding to requests from other jurisdictions, or making requests on them, when solely First Amendment activity is occurring. Encourage the police commander to remove forces from a mutual aid activity if tactics appear unsafe, unwise, or unlawful. Report to the PRC and City Council about each response or request for mutual aid involving civil disobedience or First Amendment activities.
  • Exclude those engaging in solely non-violent civil disobedience offenses from police investigation and intelligence collection.
  • Modify police policy so that no person be held in Berkeley jails solely because of civil immigration detainer requests.



Member and supporting groups of the Coalition for a Safe Berkeley include:  


American Civil Liberties Union Northern California (Berkeley/North East Bay Chapter), Asian Law Caucus, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Berkeley Organizing Congregations for Action, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Council on American Islamic Relations, East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, FMLN Berkeley, Hope for Coralito Committee, Law Offices of Timothy P. Rumberger, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (Berkeley), National Lawyers Guild (SF Bay Area Chapter), National Network on Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Committee of Pacific Steel Workers, Somos Familia, USEU—Salvadoran Student Union, University Lutheran Chapel, Veterans for Peace, Ch. 162 (S.F. East Bay) 


WHO: Berkeley residents, clergy, civil rights organizations, city officials 

WHAT: Berkeley City Council discussion & vote on BPD agreements and police reforms 

Speakers in support of protections for civil rights and civil liberties in local policing 

WHEN/WHERE: 8pm, Tuesday, May 22, 2012 

City Council Chambers, 2nd Floor, Old City Hall 

2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way 






George Lippman, 510-517-8379