Berkeley ends police traffic stops and sets goal of cutting police budget by half

In a marathon hearing that went well into Wednesday morning, the Berkeley City Council approved a package of police reforms.

The council approved Mayor Jesse Arreguin's omnibus measure, which includes elements, such as creating a Department of Transportation that will make and enforce traffic stops, rather than utilize Berkeley police officers, hire a consultant to analyze police calls and responses, and determine which calls can be answered by non-police officers, as well as setting a goal to reduce the police budget by  50%.

The Berkeley City Council had recently approved a city budget that decreased police department spending by $9.2 million, or about 12% of the police budget.

The move also now allocated $100,000 from the general fund to analyze and develop a specialized care unit to handle these calls and $160,000 for an auditor to analyze police calls and responses.

Several hundred people spoke during the public comment portion of Tuesday night's hearing, which went all the way to 3 a.m. Wednesday.

All councilmembers approved the measure, except for councilmember Cheryl Davila, who abstained because she said this is not what the people want.  

About 100 people spoke during public comment for the meeting and the vast majority of them told council to support a Davila proposal, Berkeleyside reported.

Arreguin's omnibus bill is a revised version of an original proposal introduced by Davila.

Her proposal, which called to defund the police department’s proposed 2021 budget by 50%, was shot down by the council.

Some residents were disappointed with the council’s decision, saying the mayor’s item did not go far enough fast enough. One described it as a “pathetic attempt to placate the will of the people at the 11th hour."