2018 was an interesting year for public safety in Berkeley. The big political clashes and street fights that marked much of 2017, for the most part, did not recur. There were no homicides*, and statistics from the first half of the year showed crime on a downward trend — though shootings spiked and robberies continued to be a worry.
The Berkeley City Council spent a lot of time debating whether Berkeley police should take part in the county’s annual Urban Shield tactical exercises; what to make of racial disparities in local policing and crime trends; and whether Berkeley police should be allowed to release booking photographs of people arrested during protests. Police staffing levels, described by officials as in crisis, were another recurring theme.
Some of the year’s most significant crimes included the rape of a high school girl, the near-fatal stabbing of a North Berkeley woman, ongoing gang tension, a shooting at San Pablo Park that injured three people, and the killing of a young Berkeley man just over the Oakland border. A trial involving a group of self-described anti-fascist activists also drew significant interest. Berkeleyside’s scoop involving City Councilman Ben Bartlett’s behavior during a traffic stop gained regional and national attention.
Scroll down for some of the most significant public safety stories on Berkeleyside in 2018.