Albany Policing & Berkeley Community Safety

Albany Mayor Gary & Police Chief Talk Issues

Albany’s webinar on Community Conversation held on March 25, 2020  had the goal to “get to know your local police department.”  Part of the time was spent hearing the Chief and officers tell about why they chose policing as a career and part explaining the types of problems and planning for solutions. The webinar was warmly moderated by Albany’s Mayor Ge’Nell Gary.

Albany’s Chief of Police, John Geisberger, was inspired as a child by the local officer who ran their after school basketball program.  He later joined the volunteer reserves at the local Sheriff’s office.  Being able to help comfort people when in a bad situation, and to guide those who break the law in making safe decisions was his call. This led to working as an officer, followed by his present role as Chief.  

The main issues right now in Albany are homelessness, the theft of catalytic converters, and ID theft. The police aren’t ticketing those sleeping in their cars or asking for money during this pandemic, although there is an Ordinance.   An exception is Albany Hill as well as the bulb where the Ordinance is still enforced. In addition, ticketing parked oversized vehicles is complaint driven only.  There have not been hate crimes reported at this time.  It is advised that all person’s follow guidelines for safety such as the one’s for traveling to and from school: 

Albany has two beats with Solano Ave. as the dividing line.  There is a working staff of five at all times which includes a few new officers at entry level.  Right now, they are short on officers; they’ve been down six for awhile. Every police officer has had training on bias-based policing;  it is prohibited.  The stop data that is being collected will be analyzed soon as a measure of effectiveness. 

Chief Geisberger noted that each community is different in some ways, so that each city’s police department must be aware and focus based on what differs as well as what is basic. They are working on assuring the right policies for tools that will help the community. 

For the future there will be an emergency app called Pulse Point.  This is a text to 911 for your cell phone which should be in use before the end of the year.  Geisberger stated that the Police Department supports and is looking to move toward  Eugene, Oregon’s Cahoots style model for mental health and homelessness. Their staffing shortage precludes a consistent bicycle patrol, yet that type of visibility is in future plans. If the pandemic remains under control in the Bay Area, youth programs, Albany Civics Academy, and Neighborhood Watch will start up again.  

Berkeley Community Safety Town Hall

Berkeley Councilmembers held the South Berkeley Community Safety Town Hall on March 31, 2021 in response to the rash of burglaries in west and south Berkeley.  An excellent summary of the meeting, including a video of the hour plus Town Hall meeting, can be found on Berkeleyside:

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