Public Comment

New: Berkeley Police Chief and City Manager Flip Flop on Police Department Agreements

By Gene Bernardi
Monday September 10, 2012 - 11:39:00 PM

The Berkeley Municipal Code requires that all terms and conditions of agreements with law enforcement agencies must be presented to the City Council in writing and copies of these agreements be made available to the public at least 10 days before the public hearing. THE HEARING IS SCHEDULED FOR THE TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 18, 2012, 7pm CITY COUNCIL MEETING UNDER ITEM 10a. 


Of particular concern are the agreements with the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center (NCRIC) coordinated with the FBI Bay Area Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) a Homeland Security urban warfare training and equipment program. 

Chief Meehan and City Manager Daniel (CM) in their May 15, 2012 memo to the City Council stated that the “relationship with NCRIC is a general understanding, meaning there is no express agreement, but rather an ongoing relationship”. In their current memo for the upcoming September 18, 2012 Council meeting they have stated “the understanding with NCRIC was reduced to writing in the 2011 MOU Binder…”. 

In their May 15, 2012 memo, the Police Chief and CM state “the Police Department’s relationship with…(UASI) is a general understanding.” But in the memo for the September 18, 2012 meeting it states “the Police Department’s general understanding with UASI was reduced to writing in the 2011 MOU Binder…”. 

The 2011 writings referred to by the Police Chief and CM are one page summaries that leave out important elements of the NCRIC and UASI programs; e.g., the page on NCRIC fails to use the term Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) the core of NCRIC. The Chief’s and CM’s memo for 9/18/12 refers to the NCRIC summary as that of a “general understanding”. Are they not aware that the NCRIC MOU Binder page was revised February 14, 2012 and states it is a Summary of a “Written Policy”? Also, that the UASI 2011 page states it is a Summary of a “Written Agreement”? 

Since the NCRIC and UASI agreements are already in writing these actual signed agreements are what is required to be submitted to the City Council. They don’t need to be “reduced to writing”. They are already written. Meaningful summaries that reveal the purposes and necessity of FBI coordinated Suspicious Activity Reporting and Homeland Security Urban Warfare training and equipment and the actual operational procedures for achieving their purposes must only be submitted IN ADDITION to the agreements themselves. 

Are the Police Chief and City Manager oblivious, or devious, in not acknowledging that NCRIC and UASI programs are written agreements? There are 71 pages of UASI agreements signed by the City and County of San Francisco’s Department of Management, the fiscal agent for UASI grant funds, and by Berkeley’s City Manager. These agreements, the last included expired November 30, 2010, are in a Public Viewing Binder for the 9/18/12 agenda item 10a in the City Clerk’s office. Most UASI agreements appear to have been approved retroactively by the City Council. 

Regarding NCRIC, in the Berkeley Police Department’s attachment 3 to the Chief’s and CM’s 9/18/12 memo, “Subject: Suspicious Activity Reporting…”, we are informed there are guidelines for SARs developed through the National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan and NSI (Findings and Recommendations of the Suspicious Activity Reporting) and that further guidelines have been established for reporting, tracking and assessing terrorism-related SARs by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, the ISE-SAR (Information Sharing Environment Suspicious Activity Reporting Functional Standard). Called for are terrorism-related suspicious activity to be routed through designated fusion centers for appropriate vetting and review before sharing nationwide. 

Considering all these profusive Federal guidelines governing SARs, can you imagine the City’s Police Department’s relationship to the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center coordinated by the FBI’s Bay Area Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) is a “General Understanding” and not a written agreement signed by representatives of all the agencies involved? 

Berkeley PD now has three sworn Terrorism Liaison Officers (TLO), up from two in 2011. These officers forward SARs to a TLO Coordinator for review who in turn submits it to the Operations Division Commander. Are the latter positions located at NCRIC, the Regional Data Fusion Center for Northern California coordinated with the FBI’s JTTF? 

The ACLU did a Freedom of Information Act request for San Francisco’s written agreement with the FBI regarding JTTF and received an MOU which indicated their TLO’s are only answerable to their FBI supervisors and may not inform their local PD supervisor of program information without approval of their FBI supervisor. It would seem that Berkeley would have such a written MOU governing its TLOs since the NCRIC coordinated by FBI’s Bay Area JTTF is a regional program. 

Attend the Berkeley City Council meeting 9/18/12, 7pm, Old City Hall, and ask the City Council to NOT APPROVE the NCRIC and UASI programs. Further the City Council must amend its’ Municipal Code so that any future Police Department agreements with such entities be presented IN THEIR ENTIRETY in writing before consideration. 

Gene Bernardi is a member of SuperBOLD and a UC graduate with an MA in Sociology,