The largest part of last night’s City Council meeting was consumed by public comment and council debate over potential ballot measures for the November election (full report coming later). But a number of other important items were on the agenda as well.
Police community engagement
At a special, one-hour meeting before the regular council, Berkeley Police Department Captain Andy Greenwood presented a number of new community engagement initiatives, including an online crime reporting system, a revamped CrimeView site, and an expanded program of “coffee with the commanders”.
The online reporting system, dubbed CopLogic, enables residents to self-report non-emergency matters, where there are no witnesses or suspects. Greenwood said the types of crimes where the system could prove helpful include auto burglary and theft from autos, identity theft, petty theft, harassing phone calls, and vandalism.
When a person files a crime with the system, they receive a temporary case number. BPD staff review all filings, and when approved, the system generates a PDF of the report, which is emailed back to the victim who reported the crime with a definitive case number. If the filing reports, for example, that a neighbor witnessed the vandalism, the report will be rejected and an officer will be dispatched for follow up.
Both Greenwood and Police Chief Michael Meehan emphasized that the new system was an alternative to existing ways of reporting, not a replacement.
The improved CrimeView Community enables residents to map and track crimes over the previous 180 days. “It’s very dynamic, very user friendly,” Greenwood said. In addition to the search functions provided by CrimeView, Greenwood said users could set up alerts to receive emails on crimes by type or area. Councilmember Gordon Wozniak asked whether it might be possible to export data out of CrimeView, to create your own reports. Greenwood said he would look into it. The company behind CrimeView also offers an app, CrimeMapping.com, to view the data on your iPhone or iPad.
Councilmembers were most interested, however, in Greenwood’s report on the “coffee with the commanders” initiative. The scheme was started in area 4 by Lieutenant Dave Frankel, but its success has led to its roll out in all four police watch districts. “It gives community members a chance to sit down in a relaxed manner,” Greenwood said. “You’re talking to a commander who knows the system, knows how to get some things done.”
“These initiatives are comprehensive, they’re interactive, they’re approachable by people,” said councilmember Max Anderson. “It forges a better relationship between the community and the police department.”
Christine Daniel appointed city manager
Christine Daniel, who has been serving as interim city manager since the retirement of Phil Kamlarz last November, was unanimously approved as city manager by the council last night. Although Mayor Tom Bates was eager to push the pace of the meeting, all of the councilmembers had words of endorsement of Daniel. When the item came up on the agenda, all of the city’s department heads filed into the back of the council chamber to stand in support.
Councilmember Kriss Worthington did raise, however, questions about the contract Daniel had been offered. According to Worthington, there were no safeguards in the contract to avoid paying one year’s severance in case of poor performance. “There is widespread sentiment that this kind of policy is totally inappropriate,” Worthington said. He added, “I don’t think any of my concerns should be seen as a comment on the qualities of the acting city manager. The acting city manager has continued the exemplary qualities of the previous city manager.”
Councilmember Linda Maio suggested the matter should be dealt with by the evaluation committee, which includes Maio, Worthington, Laurie Capitelli and Susan Wengraf. Worthington agreed that the committee would be the appropriate venue for discussing the contract.
Alameda County Transportation Expenditure Plan
The council unanimously endorsed the reauthorization of Measure B, the $8 billion Alameda County plan to provide additional funds for transportation over the next 30 years. The Transportation Expenditure Plan (TEP) will be on the ballot in the November general election.
According to the presentation by Tess Lengyel, deputy director of policy and public affairs at the Alameda County Transportation Commission, the measure would specifically allocate $220 million to Berkeley over the next 30 years. The $2.3 billion allocated for streets and roads countywide would provide funds for major corridors in Berkeley, including Ashby, San Pablo, Marin and Solano. The $677 million for highways and freight contains specific funding to improve the Gilman interchange, she said.
Lengyel emphasized that the plan has the lowest ever percentage for highways (8.7%), which is nearly equalled by the amount devoted to bicycles and pedestrians (8.4%, or $651 million). The funding for AC Transit would be the “highest ever”, enabling the restoration of routes that have been cut and services that have been reduced.
Dave Campbell, program director of the East Bay Bicycle Coalition, told the council, “There’s not been a vote I’ve seen in the last few years as important as this one.” He said Berkeley ranked fourth in the country for bike share of transportation, and the funding from TEP would help complete Berkeley’s bike plan.
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