Councilmember Taplin Statement on May 5 Reimagining Public Safety Meeting

May 5, 2022 


Dear District 2,

I was born and raised in West Berkeley, and have lived in the neighborhood currently bearing the brunt of increasing gun violence for most of my life. Berkeley is a diverse community, and while we may not always agree on particulars, we value a just society and each others’ personal safety. We are a city of ideas and of material. I’m committed to upholding my promise to you that I will think carefully and critically about important decisions with tangible impacts on our neighborhoods. The budgeting and policy choices I make must support your safety, health, and peace. I voted to support an amended budget referral for Reimagining Public Safety at tonight’s council meeting with those interests in mind.

I have labored to address community safety, crime, and violence prevention from every angle. Though I was not on the City Council when the Reimagining Public Safety process began, I am deeply committed to the mandate to Reinvest in reparative justice for our community. My colleagues and I are united in our desire to supplement services, not deprive people of them. I am no stranger to the realities of systemic poverty and inequality, and I have worked hard to secure major investments in economic justice for West Berkeley. 

With Mayor Arreguín, I fought for an increase in funding to $33 million over 30 years for education, childcare, affordable housing, parks, and the West Berkeley Fund through the renewed Development Agreement with Bayer. I have worked closely with David Muhammad, founder of the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (NICJR), to help develop an Operation Ceasefire program to intervene in gun violence before it escalates, modeled after similar initiatives in Oakland and Stockton. I proposed a Problem-Oriented Policing unit, following NICJR recommendations, to support Ceasefire and other community initiatives. As part of tonight’s Reimagining session, I advocated for more funding to support Vision Zero initiatives and engineering-first solutions to traffic safety. I also advanced a proposal for the Office of Racial Equity to study a Guaranteed Income pilot and employment program to end the vicious cycles of poverty and crime. I have fought for piloting a Crisis Stabilization Unit for mental health crises; and to increase funding for a new Office of Racial Equity to provide technical assistance, accountability and capacity building for community organizations providing new services including a 24/7 Specialized Care Unit for mental health calls.

To represent my community most effectively, I work hard to maintain collaborative and collegial relationships with all of my colleagues and the entirety of your City government. The City Council is broadly united on safety, as I have collaborated on public safety initiatives with every Council office. Moreover, my West Berkeley neighbors are overwhelmingly grateful for the highly professional service of the Berkeley Police Department. They are ethically trained and trusted partners in the neighborhoods’ local safety network. The Police Accountability Board’s chief investigator Byron Norris even told the Board a few nights ago that BPD was light years ahead of other departments. We want them to do their best work as effectively as possible without relying on more overtime. 

Mental health is serious, and the need for more services in Berkeley is acute. Gun violence is serious. I am glad to see the initiatives upon which we’ve already agreed moving forward. Our decisions as elected representatives are worth disagreeing about sometimes, because they are worth getting right. I promise you, the residents of District 2, that I will continue working tirelessly to make the best possible choices on your behalf.

Your neighbor,

Councilmember Terry Taplin