Berkeley City Council unanimously passes major policing reforms

The city of Berkeley has passed groundbreaking police reforms. It potentially allows officers to be fired for racist social media posts and eliminates stops for low-level offenses, like not wearing a seatbelt or having expired license tags.

Video Transcript

KATE LARSEN: Convened before police killed George Floyd last May, Berkeley's fair and impartial policing work group shared data on racial disparities when it comes to who Berkeley Police stop in cars, on bikes, and on foot. BPD data shows that from 2015 to 2018, black drivers were about eight times more likely to be stopped than white drivers.

Berkeley's mayor and city council voted unanimously to pass the 200-page reform package, which eliminates stops for low-level offenses, requires written consent for searches, prevents police from asking for parole or probation status, potentially allows police officers to be fired for racist social media posts, and creates an early intervention system to retrain biased officers. Public comment was largely critical of Berkeley PD.

AYANNA DAVIS: On my block, I saw multiple levels of harassment and abuse by police.


KATE LARSEN: Berkeley Copwatch shared a compilation of body cam footage from recent incidents they say demonstrated racial bias.

AYANNA DAVIS: It is critical that these officers be held accountable.

- It's really an opportunity to change the culture of a police department.

- Berkeley deserves better, and black people deserve justice.

KATE LARSEN: But Berkeley's police union says they weren't consulted about the new policies, which they call a one-way street. "At stake is the safety of Berkeley citizens and its police officers, as the proposed reforms will turn officers into filing clerks." "The council needs to ensure officers have the necessary tools to protect ourselves and our community." These reforms will do just the opposite." A separate task force is working to cut the Berkeley Police Department's budget in half.

Kate Larsen, ABC7 News.