Textgate Investigation: Gross racial disparities in BPD arrest demographics
In November of 2022, in the wake of the Textgate scandal, Berkeley Copwatch members submitted a number of Public Records Access requests related to BPD’s policing practices and arrest statistics, as part of our independent investigation into the policing practices indicated in Textgate.
One of these requests was for a complete list of BPD arrests of adults, from January 2019 to December 2021 including demographic information of the arrestees. This data reveals stark, disturbing racial disparities in Berkeley’s policing practices.
The data shows that since the July 2020 omnibus police reform bill, 49.3% of arrests were of Black people, 29.53% were white, 13.6% Hispanic, 2.13% Asian, and 5.38% were categorized Other. The omnibus bill was passed after George Floyd was murdered and protests erupted nationwide. At that time the City Council resolved to reform BPD, and this launched us into the Reimagining Public Safety process in Berkeley. Yet, the data shows things haven't really changed.
In a city with a small and shrinking Black population, why are HALF of all arrestees Black? We know racism is endemic in policing, and that Berkeley is far from an exception. But the extremity of this data is still a shock. Reimagining Police never happened.
We will continue to post updates as our investigation into Textgate continues.