Press Release Update
For Immediate Release Contact: Elana Auerbach
May 3, 2023 Phone: 415.370.6926
New Data Shows Bogus Arrests and Racial Profiling: Coalition Demands Full Investigations into Berkeley’s Interim Police Chief
A new analysis of Berkeley police arrest data, during Interim Chief Jen Louis’ time as a captain and when she became interim chief in March 2021, indicates a disturbing pattern of “bad arrests.” With information provided through California Public Records Act requests, the Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG) and Berkeley Copwatch have analyzed arrest data over the five year period from 2018 to 2022. The analysis shows that the number of arrests made, but later dismissed by then District Attorney Nancy O’Malley either for “lack of evidence” or “in the interests of justice,” rose dramatically. In 2020 and in 2022, the number of arrests that the district attorney declined to prosecute reached as high as 35% of Berkeley Police Department’s bike force arrests. You can see this in the two high red bars in the chart below. This is compared to 2018 and 2019 figures (the two red bars on the left) where the rate of “bad arrests” was less than 16% for the entire department.
In November 2022, the confirmation of Interim Chief Jen Louis was put on hold due to allegations by former officer turned whistleblower Corey Shedoudy. The allegations included the use of illegal arrest quotas and targeting of unhoused people and people of color. Investigations by the Police Accountability Board and the law firm hired by the city attorney were launched, but are not yet completed. A coalition of local social justice organizations – including Healthy Black Families, Friends of Adeline, Consider the Homeless, Racism and Criminal Justice Reform (RCJR), Berkeley Copwatch and Berkeley Community Safety Coalition – asserts that the data substantiates these allegations. You can see in the chart below that bike force officer arrests (the red line) far outnumber the arrests by officers in the rest of the police department (the blue line).
A coalition of local social justice organizations including Healthy Black Families, Friends of Adeline, Consider the Homeless, Racism and Criminal Justice Reform (RCJR), Berkeley Copwatch and Berkeley Community Safety Coalition contend that these data support the allegations made in November 2022 by former officer turned whistleblower Corey Shedoudy. The allegations included the use of illegal arrest quotas and targeting of unhoused people and people of color. As a result of these allegations, the confirmation of Interim Chief Jen Louis was put on hold and investigations by the Police Accountability Board and the taxpayer funded law firm hired by the city attorney were launched, but are not yet completed.
“Interim Chief Jen Louis was at the highest levels of department management while these patterns continued. Her lack of awareness or her complicity must be addressed and considered before the city council votes to confirm her nomination as permanent chief of police,” explained Avi Simon from Berkeley Copwatch.
In addition, the persistence of racially biased policing is confirmed by the data. Racial disparities have long plagued the department and efforts by concerned citizens to get the department to make change have been ignored or slow-walked. These include recommendations enacted by the city council from the Fair and Impartial Policing program and the Reimagining Public Safety program, efforts by the Police Accountability Board and countless citizen protests. Data confirms gross racial disparities department wide. In particular, according to the data, some individual officers have disproportionate rates of arresting people of color. For example, of all the arrests made by one veteran lieutenant over the five year period, 71% were African Americans. Data about other officers demonstrates similar bias.
An Early Intervention System was included in the recommendations from the Fair and Impartial Policing program approved by the city council in early 2021. Had this been implemented, outlier officers with disproportionate arrest rates of people of color would have been flagged. However, under Interim Chief Louis, this recommendation has yet to be implemented.
What: Press Conference
When: Thursday May 4, 2023 4pm
Who: Tarak Shah, Human Rights Data Analysis Group
Nathan Mizell, Former Police Accountability Board Member
Andrea Prichett, Berkeley Copwatch
Moni Law, Fair and Impartial Policing Task Force
Ayanna Davis, Healthy Black Families
Where: Berkeley Public Safety Building, 2100 MLK Jr. Way
Tell City Council to stop the promotion of Jen Louis to permanent chief of police. Here's how!