City Police Review Commission moves future meeting to UC Berkeley

The Police Review Commission meets at the South Berkeley Senior Center in early 2014. A future meeting will be on campus.
Lorenz Angelo Gonzales/File
The Police Review Commission meets at the South Berkeley Senior Center in early 2014. A future meeting will be on campus.

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A city civilian police oversight committee voted Wednesday to hold a future meeting at UC Berkeley, hoping to create an open dialogue with students and community members over the events of the protests in December.

The Police Review Commission — an independent body appointed by City Council — moved a Feb. 25 meeting from the South Berkeley Senior Center to the campus. They also discussed how to proceed on a policy investigation linked to recent protests against grand jury decisions not to indict police officers in the killings of unarmed black men.

PRC chair Alison Bernstein proposed to move the future meeting to campus, but Commissioner Ann Rogers suggested holding select PRC meetings at various locations around the city, voicing concerns that a meeting on campus may be “intimidating” for people who are not students.

Commissioner Bulmaro Vicente, a UC Berkeley sophomore who was recently appointed to the commission, will work with PRC Officer Katherine Lee, as well as the ASUC External Affairs Vice President’s office, to coordinate a location on campus for the meeting.

“The commission creates an avenue for citizens to have a say in what’s going on in law enforcement,” Bernstein said. “We have a whole population articulating that they have concerns and we’d like to be available as a forum.”

Vicente said he hopes public comment would “provide more transparency” for students, many of whom he said “are not aware (of) what the PRC does or that it even exists.”

Earlier in the meeting, the commission discussed controversial police action taken at the December protests and deliberated how to proceed with a policy review, which was initiated at its Jan. 14 meeting.

Vicente proposed creating a subcommittee to review the events of the protests, but Bernstein disagreed and said it would be “more expeditious” to keep the policy investigation within the commission, as two commissioners are temporary members.

The Feb. 25 meeting on campus is set to begin at 6 p.m. with a public forum, which the commission hopes will allow individuals to express their concerns, especially in regard to the protests.

“More student input is always a good thing, especially in terms of the city,” said ASUC External Affairs Vice President Caitlin Quinn.

Vicente hopes to invite members of the UC Berkeley Police Review Board, as well as UCPD, to the Feb. 25 meeting. Berkeley Police Department staff will also be present.

Additionally, the commission unanimously approved a new confidentiality agreement, which Lee proposed after a leak of the commission’s confidential findings of the 2013 in-custody death of Kayla Moore, a black transgender Berkeley woman with a history of mental illness.

The revised agreement includes a preamble explaining the necessity of confidentiality and highlighting specific federal laws that describe the handling of classified documents.