Berkeley Police Review Commission continues talks about police stop data

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The Berkeley Police Review Commission discussed police stop data and the ongoing methods used to review this data at its Wednesday meeting.

The Fair and Impartial Policing Subcommitteea subcommittee created to identify instances of police profiling based on race, ethnicity and other demographics  presented police stop data collected by the Berkeley Police Department from Jan. 2015 to the present. The data contains information regarding race, gender, age, reason for stop, police action taken after a stop and whether there was a search done.

“You are much more likely to be searched,” said Commissioner Alison Bernstein, indicating the disproportionately high number of Black people stopped. “But you are much less likely to actually have police action.”

The PRC has not moved forward with the data for almost the past two years because it is waiting for the Center for Policing Equity — a national research think tank that BPD works with — to return with its results regarding potential patterns in police stops, according to Commissioner Terry Roberts.

“One of our concerns in the subcommittee is that there was no action,” Roberts said. “We are still waiting around for CPE to come through. … We want to advance it and want to correlate (the data) to have something that is actionable.”

Bernstein said the data did not identify individuals who were on probation and parole when stopped — a provision that allows police departments to search these individuals without reasonable suspicion or probable cause.

Ben Gould, a campus graduate student and a chair of the community environmental advisory commission, said the data should also include information specifying if individuals were stopped because of the officer’s discretion or if police received a call notifying them about an individual. He represented Commissioner Kad Smith during the meeting.

According to Chief Andrew Greenwood, the CPE will most likely release its report by the end of February. He said he expects the CPE to analyze the stop data from across the country and notify BPD of any disparities in the police stop data the department could address. BPD has not, however, disclosed any use of force data to CPE at this time and will not provide this data to the PRC for confidentiality reasons.

The PRC also discussed with Greenwood the necessity of allowing PRC to be a part of the ongoing process of updating BPD policies to Lexipol’s policies, a system overhaul that is planned to be completed by 2017. According to Greenwood, Lexipol — a national vendor of resources and state-specific risk management policies offers constant reviews for new laws and regulations, helping notify BPD to any updates. This review would normally require a large amount of effort to perform.

“We are advisory to the city government,” said Commissioner George Lippman. “Let us do our job and take a look at what you are doing and under your plan, it’ll be quick and painless. If something egregious jumps out, I’d rather not be censured from saying this is really off track.”

Greenwood said he would discuss with his team the possibility of reviewing the updated policies on a rolling basis rather than conducting a final review of all the completed policies at once.

PRC plans to meet again Jan. 11, 2017 at the North Berkeley Senior Center instead of its normal location at the South Berkeley Senior Center, which will be closed for renovations.

Contact Gibson Chu at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @thegibsonchu.