Tuesday: Attend a Berkeley public safety town hall on Zoom

Community members who are concerned about Berkeley crime are invited to a virtual town hall meeting Tuesday night.

Tuesday: Attend a Berkeley public safety town hall on Zoom
A young woman places a candle at a memorial for Isamaeli "Eli" Mata'afa who was killed in a shooting on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley on Oct. 8, 2022. Emilie Raguso/The Berkeley Scanner

Berkeley City Councilwoman Susan Wengraf has organized a virtual town hall Tuesday night for anyone who is concerned about rising crime in the city.

The event will take place on Zoom at 7 p.m.

The town hall meeting will include a Q&A with Berkeley police, Wengraf said.

Register online for Tuesday night's public safety town hall.

Wengraf organized the event after the City Council received the annual crime report, which showed large increases in several violent crime categories in Berkeley in 2022, including sexual assaults, aggravated assault and shootings resulting in injury or death.

Three people were killed and at least 16 people were wounded in shootings in Berkeley in 2022.

The city had about the same number of shootings the prior year, but none were fatal. Seven people were wounded.

Police staffing is also down substantially, with the number of Berkeley police officers available for duty hovering around 120 as of this month.

Closer to 150 officers are on the payroll, but that includes police out on leave and in the academy.

The department is authorized to hire about 180 officers but has struggled to make that happen. Police staffing has been an ongoing challenge across the nation.

"In response to the many emails and phone calls I have received regarding the recent uptick in crime activity and traffic safety in the hills and the City, I am hosting a Virtual Town Hall Meeting on crime and collisions to inform and address your concerns.

Wengraf told The Berkeley Scanner that she's heard from people who are concerned about catalytic converter thefts as well as those who have told her they are "increasingly uncomfortable in the downtown."

She said she wanted to make sure community members had a chance to share their views and hear from police about what they are doing.

Even if people are frustrated, she added, "It’s always good to have a discussion."

The Berkeley Scanner will cover Tuesday night's meeting. Watch Twitter for updates and stay tuned for our report.

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