Three council members are holding meetings this week to collect public feedback about proposed police beat changes in Berkeley.
Given current staffing levels, which are at historic lows, police are looking at whether to make beats larger or to have some beats that are staffed less often. Berkeleyside wrote about the proposal in depth in March.
The city has hired Mountain View-based Matrix Consulting Group to help oversee the public process and create a strategy for police staffing going forward.
As part of that process, which will include Berkeley City Council review in coming months, council members have been asked to hold meetings in their districts to explain the process and hear from the community. Two of those meetings — for residents of districts 2, 5 and 6 — have been scheduled for this week.
Tuesday night, May 13, Councilman Darryl Moore will hold a meeting for his district, District 2, at Rosa Parks Elementary School in the multipurpose room at 920 Allston Way from 7-8:30 p.m.
An email notice his office sent Tuesday included some of the background: “The Berkeley Police Department (BPD) is currently undertaking a review and reevaluation of its beat structure in order to ensure that the most efficient and effective police service is being provided to those who live, work and visit the City of Berkeley. To that end, the BPD asked Berkeley citizens to take a survey regarding police patrol deployment. (Responses were due April 11, 2014.)”
The community meetings are the next chance for local residents to weigh in.
Coming Thursday night, May 15, Councilman Laurie Capitelli and Councilwoman Susan Wengraf will hold a joint meeting for both of their districts (5 and 6) at Northbrae Community Center’s Haver Hall, 941 The Alameda, from 7-8:30 p.m.
Meeting dates for other council members have not been announced. [Update, 4:45 p.m.: Councilman Max Anderson has announced a meeting for District 3 on June 4 at the South Berkeley Senior Center, 2939 Ellis St., from 7-8:30 p.m.]
The current 18-beat police staffing system dates back to 1993. It was based “primarily on crime trends, calls for service, crime statistics, and staffing levels. While there have been changes over the last 20 years related to crime trends, calls for service, and staffing levels, the Department continues to operate with the same beat system designed in 1993.”
As a result of those changes, and with no plans to hire more officers, the city is looking at the current beat reorganization process.
According to previously released information: “Any recommended changes to the geographic beat areas will take into consideration an even distribution of workload across beats, boundaries which utilize efficient routes of travel, the minimization of natural barriers and the minimization of neighborhood divisions. Any proposed changes will be brought to the City Council for review and discussion.”
Anyone with questions about the survey or the evaluation process can reach out to Matrix project manager Richard Brady at 650-858-0507 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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