Berkeley City Council members and city residents gathered Thursday to discuss issues surrounding city development and police transparency during a regularly scheduled council meeting.
A portion of the meeting was devoted to discussing the extension of a lease on 742 Grayson St. Public commenters brought up the issue of displacement, and how the end of the lease could exacerbate the problem.
Another agenda item introduced during the meeting was an appeal to adopt a resolution that would affirm the decision to allow for the construction of a six-story building on San Pablo Avenue.
Vice Mayor Kate Harrison and Berkeley Police Department Chief Jen Louis also discussed the status of an audit recommendation report on Berkeley Police Department, or BPD.
One of the major points of discussion was Recommendation 4.1 in the audit report.
“Internal procedures should include appropriate criteria to identify and document the benefit to the City gained by work for outside entity agreements, and to allocate resources in a way that does not negatively impact City operations,” the audit report reads. “Additionally, BPD should document their criteria for when officers are not available or eligible for work for outside entities.”
According to the audit report, outside entity agreements come about when a private citizen or organization requires the assistance of BPD. For instance, a BPD officer is always present at the Berkeley Apple store, Harrison noted.
Prior, there were no contracts for overtime work with those outside entities. Contracts that would require all private entities to fully reimburse the city for the financial costs of dispatching BPD were being finalized at the time of the meeting.
“The language in there is going to include language that says, ‘We have the ability to put public safety above any third-party contracts,’ ” Louis said during the meeting. “At any given time, we have the ability to pull resources that are working in that third-party capacity.”
During the meeting, some of the actions taken by BPD to increase transparency to the public were also listed, such as increasing minimum staff levels for patrols and posting shift assignments on their website.
In May, BPD released a Transparency Hub intended to improve communications between BPD and the community. The hub, according to BPD’s website, provides access to data on calls for service, uses of force and general knowledge collected as a result of the California Racial and Identity Profiling Act.
“My goal is to provide you, our community, with tools and information to better understand and visualize the public safety work that the department undertakes within our community,” Louis said in a press release on the city website.