'I've been unfairly treated': Berkeley City Council to vote on 'groundbreaking' police policy reform

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- In an effort to address inequities in policing, the City of Berkeley is voting on major changes to police policy on Tuesday during a special meeting.

"In Berkeley you are 6.5 times more likely to be stopped by the police while driving if you're Black compared to a white driver," said Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin, who is making a case for what he calls a groundbreaking package of police reforms.

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Many of the changes are focused on traffic, bike and pedestrian stops. Stops for "low-level offenses" like not wearing a seatbelt, improper use of high beams, and expired tags or registration, would be eliminated.

Police would also need written consent for a search, and would not be able to ask if someone is on probation or parole. Another recommendation in a 202 page report compiled by the Mayor's Fair and Impartial Policing Workgroup, is to fire police officers identified as racist, through social media posts.

"I believe it's going to increase our officer's time to focus on more dangerous behavior like speeding and driving under the influence."

Kate Larsen: "Don't you think people are going to drive around with expired tags now?

Jesse Arreguin: "I think there are always unintended consequences for laws and that's why we need to work on the details with our police association and the police department."

On Tuesday, a member of the Berkeley Police Department, who did not want to be identified, told reporter, Kate Larsen, they were concerned the new policies would be detrimental to public safety.

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ABC7 set up an interview with Berkeley's Police Association, the department's union. But upon arrival, the police officer and union leader said they were unable to comment on the proposed policy changes.

"The police are in a difficult position. They're funded by city councils," said retired FBI agent, Rick Smith, who feels the proposed changes are ill-advised.

"People care about being protected and this is not being protected," said Smith. "But it's being driven by people with a whole different perspective on what's needed in society."

"I have two situations just this year where I've been unfairly treated by the police," said Berkeley resident, Deshon Hudson, who says reform is overdue. "Whatever's happening in Berkeley needs to be done immediately."

The special council meeting and public comment start Tuesday at 4pm.
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