Kayla Moore was killed by the Berkeley Police in her own home during a "wellness check" in 2013 when she was experiencing a mental health crisis. The abuse and murder of people living with mental health disabilities at the hands of the police is tragic and commonplace. According to the [statistics here].
Who can we call for help? Decades of austerity and failed policy has left us with police as first responders to mental health crisis, and jails and prisons as the largest "providers" of mental health services. Individuals cannot access long-term care, and when they need acute assistance, their need is met by police, who cause further traumatization.
The City of Berkeley does operate a mobile crisis unit, but the unit is so underfunded that it does not operate Tuesdays or Sundays, nor after 10 pm. The mobile crisis unit is dispatched with the police, and the police control the scene. Moreover, the mobile crisis unit lacks the resources to arrive in a timely manner—or even to arrive at all. Many times police arrive at the scene, and mobile crisis shows up hours later after the individual is long gone.
We need to end the criminalization of mental illness. When police arrive to a mental health crisis, they bring fear, they bring force, and they are more likely to refer an individual to the criminal justice system than to the health services that they desperately need. Criminalizing mental health disability disrupts the road to recovery, and makes it more difficult to access employment and housing. It is expensive, ineffective, and inhumane.
What can we do about this? In July 2020, the Berkeley City Council voted to create a “Specialized Care Unit” (SCU) as an alternative to police in cases of mental health emergencies and non-criminal incidents. The new SCU is an opportunity for a mental health crisis response that does not involve the police, but we have to make sure that we do not repeat the mistakes of the mobile crisis unit. Read our demands.
We can make the SCU a viable alternative to the police, but we have to ACT NOW to intervene in the budget process. Read more about how to get involved.
DEMANDS FOR THE SPECIALIZED CARE UNIT (SCU)
Groups demanding CARE NOT COPS:
Cops off Campus
Friends of Adeline
South Berkeley Mutual Aid
Berkeley Tenants’ Union
Latinos Unidos de Berkeley
Where Do We Go? Berkeley
Berkeley Community Safety Coalition
This is an urgent call to our community to affect change in the city's proposed budget. The proposed budget includes increases to police, and does not allocate any funds to a Specialized Care Unit!
The SCU was approved but now is the time to make this a reality with the budget process. We have to act right now! City Council is meeting Tuesday May 25 at 6pm to announce the proposed budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022. [more info idk]
Berkeley residents can expect challenges and changes to the budget over the next month before a final version is adapted at the last City Council meeting in June......[more info...]
Where's the money?
Let's break down the proposed budget: What does it say about our city's priorities?
Infographic/visuals: "this is the size of the police budget, this is more than all of these other departments combined"
[maybe annotated budget? or a breakdown of our analysis/critiques?]
Video of press conference - where’s our money??
TALKING POINTS (taken from Press Release I don't think we need all this, but some of our own analysis/breakdown of the budget would be good I think)
NOT A “RE-IMAGINED” BUDGET:
We can not continue to direct millions of unaccountable dollars into a racist police force with supposed training in de-escalation, but no ability to successfully demonstrate that training or display empathy or compassion. They must not be the first responders to a community they antagonize and harass on a daily basis. If the BPD refuses to change, then we must change where we direct our city’s precious resources.
We are tired of seeing those living with mental health conditions targeted, harassed, and sometimes killed by police. Justice for Kayla Moore and Vincent Bryant.
We must give support and attention to the need for a powerful and well funded mental health crisis response program in Berkeley. Alameda, SF, and Richmond are already cutting police personnel & allocating funds from their police budget to mental health crisis programs, housing programs and tutoring for impacted students instead of cops in schools.
We must give support, attention and funding to existing organizations that have already proven themselves willing and capable (Berkeley Free Clinic, Voices Against Violence, Suitcase Clinic, NEED, Where Do We Go Berkeley, Homeless Action Center) in order to build a solid structure of support across the city and make for a smooth implementation of the SCU with funding coming directly out of BPD.
The current budget proposal includes $1 million for security cameras and lighting in areas that have been identified as crime “hot spots”, i.e. inroads from the surrounding communities of color. This is racist rhetoric disguised as community safety and we’re sick of it. Community advocates are challenging the tired refrain that more surveillance will make our community safer. We need to address the roots of crime and the vast array of unmet needs in our city.
More bike and foot patrols are proposed in this budget at a cost of almost $1.4 million dollars. Beyond the propaganda value of having “friendly” cops on the street, the actual impact on community health and safety would be much greater if these funds were used to fund the Special Care Unit or another program that actually provides care to those in need.
This budget proposes $4.4 million for police overtime. Last year the Berkeley Police were budgeted for $2.3 million in overtime and they over spent their budget by more than $5 million. We don’t believe that mismanagement of their overtime budget should be rewarded with increased funding.
The lack of transparency and accountability by BPD has eroded the public confidence. Advocates have tried to gain insights into how the BPD administration determines the need for staffing. Is there a formula? What is it based on? Population? Crime statistics? When almost 10% of the sworn officers earn over $400,000 per year in total compensation, the public has a right to know EXACTLY how these resources will be used.
What measures are being examined to determine the effectiveness of BPD’s crime fighting methods? We need the BPD to disclose its clearance rates for crimes in this city and how often they actually even investigate crimes. This information has NOT been presented publicly. Its long past due.
Less than 1% of all calls for service were for violent crimes and that 55% of calls to Berkeley Police came in on their “non-emergency” line.
Berkeley police failed to capture data on how many calls involved unhoused people or those with mental health issues
BPD stopped Black people at a significantly higher rate than their representation in the population (34 percent compared to 8 percent)
The above statistic is almost identical (36% to 8%) as the data found by the Center for Policing Equity audit released in 2018, pointing to a clear pattern of racial bias in Berkeley policing.
BPD was most likely to search Black and Hispanic people following a stop.
Traffic events made up the largest percentage of BPD events, 27%, i.e. events that typically involve enforcement of traffic and parking laws, and management of traffic flows. In addition, these calls may involve events pertaining to vehicles, such as collisions or road hazards. This classification also includes pedestrian, bike, suspicious vehicle, and vehicle stops.
The police budget was increased from $77.2 million up to $77.8 million
This budget is a retreat from the goal of 50% defunding that the council agreed to in July 2020.
Includes $336,281 for the Office of the Director of Police Accountability (Is this a salary?). City Council did not select any of the recommendations from community groups for the interview process.
Includes $4.4 million for budgeted BPD overtime. BPD overspent on overtime by $5 million dollars in the previous fiscal year. As of April of 2021, BPD had spent 80% of budgeted overtime, putting them on track once again to exceed their budget.
There is a single line item titled “Public Safety Reimaging”, with funding amount listed as TBD.
There is no line item for the Specialized Care Unit which community organizations within this coalition are calling for funding upwards of $3 million.
The mayor says they are committed to funding the SCU in this budget cycle in June. The city manager didn’t even list it.
$150,000 Officer Development Training Programs (Fair and Impartial Policing/Implicit Bias/Hate Crimes). Their “training” has not worked for the last 10 years. How is this going to be different? Why do my tax dollars have to fund another failed experiment while Black lives are on the line?
Context: Mental Health & Policing
What we already know about Berkeley's crisis response
and why it is ineffective and harmful.
- behind the mask video 2 (maybe 1)
- info on the current Mobile Crisis unit & why it sucks/is inadequate
Who do we call?
When we can't call the police in times of crisis, what is our alternative?
Let's look at some examples of mental health response in other cities
Alternatives to police
[Maybe a video? Check out MH first website?]
Link to white paper by communities united against police brutality (makes the case for why mental health response shouldn’t be the police, and goes into existing alternatives)
What can we do?
Let's get organized!
There's lots to do.
- calls to make public comment
- weekly action at city hall steps noon, banging pots & pans
- how to join a care not cops organizing meeting maybe?
- join berkeley copwatch
Fully Funded and Independent
Defund Berkeley Police
Cultural Relevant Care with Input from Impacted Communities
Wrap Around Services
Transparency and Evaluation