Six years of protest, public comment and politicking have finally created a light at the end of the Stop Urban Shield tunnel.
On January 14th, 2019, after five months of hearings, leg work and votes, the Alameda County Urban Shield Task Force finished its assigned task. The Task Force was voted into being by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors back in March of 2018 when the Board voted to “end Urban Shield as it is currently constituted.” It began work in September, 2018 and at its last meeting approved a set of recommendations to be presented to the Supervisors that would radically transform Urban Shield from a militarized SWAT Team and weapons extravaganza into a true emergency preparedness conclave and suite of field exercises relevant to the Bay Area.
As John Lindsay-Poland, one of the five Task Force members, wrote after the final session:
Highlights of what is in the recommendations:
– Alameda County should dedicate approximately $5 million to Public Health and Social Service Agencies to plan, coordinate, and implement emergency preparedness exercises
– Ending SWAT team participation and scenarios
– Ending the vendor show
– Focus on community capacity, especially people in vulnerable communities
– Changing the name of Urban Shield
– Ending the competition aspect of the exercise (while keeping evaluation)
– Making de-escalation skills and compliance with use-of-force policies criteria for evaluation of all law enforcement scenarios
– Time in exercise for non-law enforcement disciplines be as much or more than that for law enforcement
– Balance efforts between prevention, response, protection, mitigation and recovery from disasters
– Identify a county department to serve as exercise lead if the sheriff decides not to assume that role
– Incorporate the recommendations into the MOU with Bay Area UASI ‘as much as is legally permissible.’
– Extend the Ad Hoc Committee’s mandate until February 2020
– Create a leadership committee to implement the UASI-funded exercise, with law enforcement as a minority.
Hundreds of Berkeleyites protest Urban Shield at City Council in 2016
These recommendations will now go before the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, who will consider them some time in late January or early-to-mid February.
It is now upon them to make good on their committment to “end Urban Shield as it is currently constituted” by approving the Task Force’s recommendations. To do this they will likely have to overcome intense opposition and pushback from Alameda County Sheriff Ahern who has run Urban Shield for a decade, along with his allies in law enforcement agencies around the County.
It will not be long before we know which path they will choose.
Contact information for the County Supervisors:
Supervisor Haggerty firstname.lastname@example.org (510) 272-6691
Supervisor Valle Richard.Valle@acgov.org 510.272.6692
Supervisor Chan email@example.com 510.272.6693
Supervisor Miley firstname.lastname@example.org 510.272.6694
Supervisor Carson email@example.com (510) 272-6695
Let them know you want them to implement the Task Force’s recommendations in full!