Berkeley City Council Demands Audit of Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern

CONTACT: Terence Long, terence@ellabakercenter.org, 510-936-0344

Berkeley, CA - The Berkeley City Council passed a resolution calling for an audit of the Alameda County Sheriff, pointing to a budget that has increased at the same time that the county's jail population has decreased. Over the past 10 years, the Alameda County jail population has decreased by forty percent, but the Alameda Board of Supervisors has voted to increase the Sheriff's budget by hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

Initiatives like Prop 47, which reduced some non-violent crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, resulted in a dramatic reduction in the number of people being held in jail in California.

The Berkeley City Council Chambers was packed with East Bay community members holding “Audit Ahern” signs who cheered when the resolution passed. Many have called for greater oversight of Sheriff Gregory Ahern, who endorsed Jeff Sessions during the nomination process for Attorney General, and hosts the police/military expo Urban Shield, which has seen the likes of the far-right anti-immigrant Oath Keepers participate.

“Increasing the Sheriff’s budget has meant less investment in resources that our communities really need, like access to affordable housing, job training, youth development services and healthcare,” said Ella Baker Center Organizer Advocate Tash Nguyen. “We’re glad to see the Berkeley City Council stand with us to push for more transparency and hold Sheriff Ahern accountable.”

The resolution from Councilmembers Davila (District 2), Kate Harrison (District 4) and Sophie Hahn (District 5), requests that the Alameda County Board of Supervisors task an independent auditor to conduct a comprehensive performance and fiscal audit of the Sheriff’s jail operations budget and management, as well as the Sheriff’s use of state and federal grants.

“Berkeley and the rest of the county are deeply impacted by the Sheriff’s growing jail and policing budget,” said John Lindsay-Poland of American Friends Service Committee. “We urge other county and city leaders to follow Berkeley’s lead to support a performance audit that exposes the Sheriff’s Office’s wasteful spending.”

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