On Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council is set to approve a contract with Citygate to analyze police staffing and officer workloads to determine how many officers the city needs.
Despite ongoing recruitment efforts, the Berkeley Police Department is experiencing an "unprecedented staffing crisis," according to agenda materials prepared for Tuesday night's meeting.
The Berkeley city auditor recommended a staffing analysis more than a year ago as part of a look at BPD overtime spending.
The city hasn't done a robust police staffing analysis for nearly 10 years.
BPD last looked at police staffing in 2014 when it reconfigured its police beats to try to balance calls for service across the city.
BPD reorganized those beats again in April of this year to address the issue of chronic open beats due to short staffing.
But that was more of a stopgap measure pending the comprehensive analysis the City Council is slated to approve Tuesday night on the consent calendar.
The city began seeking proposals to study Berkeley police staffing in December 2022.
"Citygate’s proposal was selected as best able to meet the needs of the project," according to Tuesday's staff report from Berkeley Police Chief Jen Louis.
The Citygate Associates contract fee is set to begin at $120,000 with an option to extend for up to two years in an amount not to exceed $200,000.
"This staffing study will provide analysis of resources necessary to provide public safety services to the City of Berkeley," according to the staff report. "While the Department has many skilled and experienced employees, it needs external assistance and expertise to conduct a study of this magnitude."
The work is slated to begin as soon as Friday if the Berkeley City Council approves the contract.
In a study released earlier this year, the Public Policy Institute of California found that the number of sworn officers per 100,000 residents in the state is at the lowest level since 1995.
According to the most recent data available, Berkeley is fourth in Alameda County when it comes to police staffing levels per 100,000 residents, with Emeryville at a ratio of 262, Oakland at 167, Piedmont at 158 and Berkeley at 121.
Those numbers are notoriously difficult to calculate, however, and don't take into account the number of officers who may be out on leave or who are actually available for duty.
According to the most recent crime statistics that are readily available, which are from 2019, Berkeley was third in the county, after Emeryville and Oakland, in terms of both violent and property crime rates.
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