BERKELEY (CBS SF) — The Berkeley City Council unanimously approved an ordinance Tuesday night that requires both the council and the city’s police accountability approval before the police department can purchase militarized equipment.
In a statement from councilmember Kate Harrison, who proposed the ordinance, she noted that the ordinance is the first of its kind in the nation.READ MORE: Looming La Niña May Push Western Drought From Bad to Worse
“It has almost been a year since George Floyd was murdered on May 25, 2020. In that year, there has been national civil unrest, Berkeley pledged to reform how policing is conducted, George Floyd’s murderer was convicted; and the U.S. Attorney General is examining policing in both Minneapolis and Louisville,” said Harrison. “In that same time frame, Berkeley has debated and deferred this proposed ordinance. Its passage is a recognition that police reform involves walking the walk — not just talking the talk. The Public has a right to know why, how, and where militarized equipment is being deployed.”READ MORE: Update: Fawn Fire Near Redding Grows To 7,500 Acres Overnight; Firefighters Look To Cooler Weather
In recent years, federal programs directing militarized equipment have created a $20 billion market for the defense industry. While proponents note that providing such equipment to law enforcement better prepares them for high risk situations, critics such as the Berkeley City Council note that these devices can cause significant collateral damage.
“Up until the 1990s, most police officers were outfitted with just a revolver. Seeing a police officer carrying a military assault rifle would have been largely unthinkable. We have become increasingly desensitized to their routine presence,” Harrison wrote.MORE NEWS: Air Quality Advisory Extended Through Monday Due To Wildfire Smoke
Harrison made the final version of the ordinance passed by council available online.