The Berkeley City Council last night delayed a vote to renew mutual aid pacts with five policing agencies including the FBI and the federal Department of Homeland Security.
The police review commission working with the Berkeley Police Department and several civil rights organizations had hammered out a list of six recommended modifications to the contracts.
"This issue is of interest to a lot of us, including me," Mayor Tom Bates said. "There are six items, and three out of six are extremely contentious," and warrant more time than the remainder of the meeting allowed. The item did not come up for discussion until 10:20 p.m.
The council nonetheless heard from a parade of speakers, some of whom were drowned out by a protester with a bullhorn outside the chambers. Critics warned of an erosion of civil liberties that has accompanied the "war on terror."
One critic spoke of "a creeping federal presence in policing." A proposal to have Albany, Berkeley and UC police go in on an armored tank for possible use during large-scale events deemed vulnerable to a terror attack -- UC games and the Solano Stroll were mentioned as possibilities -- came in for a particularly resounding drubbing.
"My family and my ancestors have served in every war going back to the Revolutionary War," said Francis Richard Brennan, a veteran. "Now we need to fight and fight and fight to protect the Bill of Rights and the Constitution."
The council will hold a work session on the matter at 5 p.m. June 19.
Do the recommended changes make you feel better about the mutual aid pacts? Leave a comment.