CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated the name of the law enforcement agency that is offering $75,000 signing bonuses. (April, 5, 2023)
BERKELEY, Calif. (KRON) — Fewer police officers are patrolling certain parts of Berkeley as a result of significant understaffing at the Berkeley Police Department.
The department decreased the number of its beat teams from 16 to 14. The change went into effect on Saturday.
BPD originally had 16 beat teams assigned to certain areas of the city, but with the officer shortage, the teams weren’t fully staffed.
Jessica Perry, BPD’s spokesperson, says it’s a balancing act. The department used to divide staff into 16 beat teams with seven or eight officers on each along with two sergeants, but that wasn’t working.
“Before we would have beats that were not staffed and other officers working other beats would have to backfill and do beats that weren’t theirs,” Perry says.
So on April 1, the department adjusted to 14 beat teams.
Perry says Berkeley isn’t the only department in this predicament, “I think we are doing the best we can to manage, we are dealing with a nationwide shortage so people are learning to more with less.”
Berkeley police are currently down 31 officers. The department needs 181 officers to be considered fully staffed. That’s why the agency is focusing on recruitment, similar to other police departments across the Bay Area and the country.
“We’re going to numerous career fairs, people are getting creative as to how to recruit officers right now,” Perry tells KRON4.
Perry says it’s been competitive as many other Bay Area police departments are also in need of more officers.
“All I can do is go out there and talk to people, show them what Berekley is about, show them how diverse we are. Bring people in, we have had people do ride-alongs and see if Berkeley is the correct fit for them,” Perry says.
Other law enforcement agencies are offering large incentives to new recruits. The Alameda Police Department is now offering a $75,000 dollar signing bonus. The Berkeley Police Department isn’t providing any monetary incentives at this time.