Release of Public Information to the Community/Researching Crime Information
The Berkeley Police Department (BPD) is bound by both policy and law regarding the release of information to the public. Here are the main points, with some of the exceptions and conditions following:
• BPD can release (redacted) police report narrative information in closed cases.
• BPD cannot release probation or parole status.
• However, BPD can release when specifically requested the existence of a "stay-away" as a condition of parole or probation, (without stating whether it's "parole" or "probation"), so long as that release is made to community members in the affected area, so that they can report a violation and thereby assist us in apprehending violators.
• BPD cannot release any information pertaining to housing status, relating to/confirming Section 8 or related status, whether by person or by property.
All requests for information are handled through our Ronald
T. Tsukamoto Public Safety Building (PSB) Records Bureau. You will be asked to fill out a form. Depending on a number of factors, the request will be fulfilled in a matter of 2 or 3 days, and up to 10 days. A request for an extensive report requiring large amounts of redaction will take longer, as more staff work is involved in processing the report for release to the public, and staff may need to check with Detectives to insure the release of the report won't jeopardize an on-going investigation. Cost is .10 cents per page, and the cashier operation closes at 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday so payment/pickup should occur prior to 3:00 p.m.
To get a booking photo, you may ask for the most recent, locally taken booking photo of (NAME HERE), and, where possible, provide additional information such as subject's date of birth, PFN, and date of arrest. This information can be found and is provided on the County's Inmate Locator.
To get a copy of a report, you should provide as much specifying information as possible. The most useful information is the case number. Absent that, date, time, location of incident, and other information are needed so that staff can accurately locate the case being requested. Case number and the arrestee's name and information are on the County's Inmate Locator.
Reports are redacted prior to release, based on law and policy. These redactions include, among others certain identifying information, disclosure of criminal history, e.g. victim information, reporting party information, et al.
Certain kinds of reports are either not-releasable or heavily redacted, based on the type of crime, or status of the involved parties. Reports involving juveniles, child abuse cases, elder abuse cases, vehicle collision reports, sexual assaults, and domestic violence cases are generally not releasable.
Some cases are straight-forward, some aren't: In simple officer-originated cases (often listing only the officer and suspect), the narrative will be straight-forward and easy to understand. In complex cases involving numerous parties/witnesses, redactions may result in a less-understandable narrative, and the report may take longer to process and release.
If a case is still under investigation, which is often the case with high-profile serious felony cases, where there is a large amount of follow-up investigation to be performed by Detectives, the case will not be released.
Probation or Parole Status: BPD personnel are forbidden by law to disclose a person's parole or probation status, absent a direct connection, such as the "stay-away" condition described below.
"Stay-away" as condition of probation or parole: BPD personnel are allowed to release when requested at the front counter, that "John Doe" has a stay-away as a condition of probation and/or parole, where that "stay away" condition is from a local geographic area. In other words, it is within law and policy to release when requested that "John Doe has a stay-away condition, and he is to stay (distance) from (location.). When specifically requested, this information is OK to release to community members to aid in reporting crime occurring in their neighborhood.
Assisted Housing Information: BPD personnel are forbidden to disclose anyone's status relating to assisted housing such as Section 8 housing. BPD cannot disclose if a property is a "Section 8" property. We at BPD discuss matters directly with the Berkeley Housing Authority, and have an ongoing positive collaborative relationship. However, we are precluded from commenting on our Housing-related discussions to the public. We cannot disclose the status of any proceedings--or indeed that a proceeding may or may not exist. A failure to observe these guidelines could jeopardize our on-going relationship with the Housing Authority--and deprive the community of a valuable resource for our problem-solving efforts.
Resources: Community Members can use our Community Crime View feature found on the BPD website, www.Crimemapping.com and the Alameda County Inmate Locator to find information to support their request. In addition to locating someone in the Alameda County Jail system, the Inmate Locator gives booking information for all bookings in the last 24 hours. The detail information on a City of Berkeley arrest/booking includes name, date of birth, PFN, location of arrest, City of Berkeley report number, and offenses booked. The highlighted information would be of great use for someone making a request for booking photos and report information.
Alameda County Inmate Locator: http://www.acgov.org/sheriff_app/
BPD Community Crime View: Community Crime View
If community members wish information regarding disposition of criminal cases, current status of proceedings, whether a prisoner made a plea deal or was released on bail, he/she can go to The Superior Court (info below) in downtown Oakland with as much identifying information on the suspect and/or arrestee as possible and make a request in person/in writing.
Bear in mind that if it is a recent case, the District Attorney’s case file may not be readily available or updated.
Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse
661 Washington Street, Second Floor, Oakland, CA. 94607
Jurisdiction – Albany, Berkeley, Oakland, Piedmont & Emeryville