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No Spit Hoods in Berkeley

Currently, the Berkeley Police Review Commission is considering adopting a policy to regulate the use of "Spit Hoods". In recent years, it has become common practice for Berkeley officers to place spit hoods over the heads of people who have been detained as part of a 5150 mental health hold. Spit Hoods are a light mesh fabric that is placed over the head of a detainee and they are intended to keep a detainee from spitting at an officer.

Members of Copwatch have a number of concerns about their use:

1. When someone has a "spit hood" on, it is no longer possible for an officer to monitor respiration by looking at the facial coloration of the detainee. Their lips are not visible and it is not even possible to see whether the person may have vomited or is in danger of aspirating some solid matter.

2. The hood is degrading and serves to dehumanize an individual, making them more like an object than a human being and therefore subject, possibly, to less humane treatment.

3. Normalizing the hooding of members of our community has serious implications for the ability of individuals to identify the police officers who have taken them into custody.

4. Having a hood placed on their head can panic an individual and escalate the situation.

5. The simple and much less injurious solution is to provide officers with surgical masks in order to prevent them from being exposed to saliva.

We are calling on the community to speak out at public comment the Berkeley Mental Health Commission to urge them to support a ban on the use of spit hoods by the Berkeley Police.

Thursday, December 13 @ 7p Berkeley Mental Health Commission North Berkeley Senior Center 1901 Hearst Avenue, Berkeley

If you can't make it to the commission meeting, but want to work on this issue, please shoot us a Facebook message or email us:

Spit hoods are outrageous for use in a city that claims to be concerned about the humane treatment of individuals with mental health disabilities.


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