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 .
A veteran Berkeley firefighter says training for disasters is the best way for first responders to be prepared. Urban Shield provides that training.
As a police review commissioner, I observed the Urban Shield exercises last September. They provide critical training for first responders that Berkeley needs.
Urban Shield is about training first responders for rare events, like a terrorist attack. It lasts 48 hours, so it will not make police officers "racist." The training is valuable.
During the 1990 hostage takeover of Henry's bar, one gunshot victim lay 100 feet from police and his rescue was delayed. The armored car BPD now uses could have rescued him sooner.
With questions raised over whether city officials can legally make decisions about police training, Mayor Jesse Arreguín pulled his support from a recent vote on Urban Shield.
City officials have voted, preliminarily, to keep BPD out of Urban Shield despite protests from the city manager's office and the police and fire chiefs.
Urban Shield may be in need of a course correction, but that does not mean we should simply disengage from it.
The importance of Urban Shield in training police to respond to disasters is exaggerated. Berkeley should exit the program to rebuild good faith between police and people of color.
While it took a majority to turn their back on their citizens on the Urban Shield decision, I am particularly dismayed by City Councilman Ben Bartlett’s vote.
Activists who protested two arrests made after a city council meeting say an elderly man was hit by a police baton in the aftermath.