A measure on the Nov. 3 ballot in Berkeley would establish an independent board to hold police accountable because, according to a supporter of the measure, the current commission does not have that power.
Measure II would amend the City Charter to create the Berkeley Police Accountability Board and a director, which combined would oversee police policies, procedures, practices; have access to records; investigate complaints filed by the public against sworn personnel; and recommend discipline.
The current Police Review Commission, approved by voters in 1973, allows for commissioners to investigate complaints, hold hearings and make findings on claims of police misconduct. The city manager and police chief consider the findings when they choose whether to discipline an officer.
Mansour Id-Deen, president of the Berkeley chapter of the NAACP, supports the measure and said the PRC needs more teeth, adding:
“For myself, I’m looking for equity in policing.”
For Id-Deen, the birth of the measure goes back to about 2015 when he started getting complaints of racial profiling, among other police misconduct.
Moreover, he said when the complainant made statements before the PRC, police were in the room and when police made their statements, the complainant and the NAACP had to leave the room.
Id-Deen added that when police started releasing data on stops and searches, there were significant racial disparities.
“Bad police officers put good officers at risk.”
The Police Accountability Board would replace the PRC and new procedures would be put in place to review claims of police misconduct.
The board would have nine members chosen by the City Council and mayor. The director of the board would be appointed by the City Council and serve as secretary of the board. The director would conduct investigations into complaints against sworn members of the Police Department.
The new board would have, among other powers, the ability to review the Police Department budget, recommend disciplinary actions, issue subpoenas and compel testimony and take part in the hiring of the police chief.
Supporters say the cost of the measure would be about $300,000 a year. City councilmembers would retain the ultimate say over police policies and the city manager’s office would continue to have authority over police management.
Supporters who signed on to the measure include Id-Deen, Elliot Halpern, board member of the Berkeley/North East Bay chapter of the ACLU; David Muhammad, executive director of the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform; and Ty Alper, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley School of Law. Alper is also vice president of the school board in Berkeley.
Supporters say the measure is the result of a collaborative effort by police, the City Council and the PRC. Berkeley police spokesman Officer Byron White said the Police Department does not comment on legislative matters.