Civilian oversight of the police is an emerging best practice. Enlightened police leaders understand that independent oversight is a critical part of fair and impartial policing.
The Berkeley City Council voted 5-4 Monday night to let the city's first responders, including police, join in this year's Urban Shield exercise.
When police are trained to treat people like they are enemy combatants, it increases the chances that they will respond to local emergencies as though they are in a war.
The current configuration of the Urban Shield exercises contributes to the militarization of our department and is overly focused on dramatic, weaponized responses to incidents.
Only eight police officers go to the SWAT *competition* so pulling them out will not materially affect the BPD’s ability to respond to a disaster.
Berkeley officials are set to vote Monday afternoon, during a special meeting, on whether to allow city police officers to take part in Urban Shield tactical exercises this year.
The continued participation of Berkeley police and emergency responders in Urban Shield’s SWAT team competition and vendor show is a threat to the very fabric of our community.
The training is prompting police officers to act more aggressively, particularly with those who have a mental illness or are experiencing homelessness.
Urban Shield trainees were responsible for the violent treatment of protestors in 2014 and 2018. The exercises train police to "shoot to kill," too. Berkeley must withdraw.
How do we get the value of Urban Shield training without the militaristic agendas that are antithetical to most people in Berkeley and to its police and fire departments?
Pulling out of Urban Shield will mean a loss of highly trained, experienced and dedicated officers and the city’s future ability to properly respond to disaster events.
Berkeley may decide to prohibit our Special Response Team from participating in Urban Shield trainings at a special Council meeting on July 23. Doing so would be a mistake.
If Berkeley withdraws, SWAT teams won't practice de-escalation training, first responders will be in harm’s way and people of color will see worse outcomes .