BERKELEY (KRON) — The City of Berkeley is facing a crisis, and KRON4 talked directly with the Berkeley police chief on Wednesday.
The department is suspending units, eliminating departments, and desperately trying to keep officers on the force.
A staffing shortage at the Berkeley Police Department has the chief calling it a critical time.
And he tells KRON4 that keeping the public safe during this crisis is a challenge.
“We are seeing a staffing crisis unlike any I have seen in my career here,” Chief Andrew Greenwood said.
Greenwood tells KRON4 in his 32 years with the Berkeley Police Department, this is a difficult time.
Hanging in a storage locker are all the patrol bikes. The program got suspended in the fall.
And the drug task force is gone. Cuts that could be coming next year include ending the traffic unit and parking all motorcycle officers.
“Are there some investigations in narcotics that are not going to get done? The answer is yes,” Chief Greenwood said. “Are there some calls we are not going to go to? Yes. That is so we can focus our people on community safety while they are working on patrol.”
Patrol is where the chief does not want to see cuts. Those officers respond to calls in the community.
But the department is currently short 20 officers. He wants Berkeley police to be more competitive in hiring or else things will get worse before they get better.
“This is a regional problem–San Francisco PD, Oakland PD, San Jose PD,” Chief Greenwood said. “All these agencies are competing hard for candidates and looking for ways to do it. They are looking at us. We are looking at them and that is the way forward.”
Being competitive means offering special departments like a bike unit or a drug task force, both of which the department just shut down.
But the chief also told KRON4 that morale inside the department is hurting because of these issues.
Read a blog post from the mayor in response: https://www.jessearreguin.com/blog-1/2017/12/19/city-bpd-must-work-together-to-recruit-new-talent-to-berkeley
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