Berkeley may soon strengthen police oversight at upcoming meeting

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Lianne Frick/File

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Berkeley City Council will discuss police accountability reform within the Police Review Commission, or PRC, on Tuesday.

During the regular meeting, City Council will review short-term reforms for police accountability as recommended by the Center for Policing Equity, or CPE, report. In response to these suggested changes, the council will decide if reforms to strengthen the PRC will be appropriate.

The push for PRC protocol to be enhanced came out of the need to address disparate policing in Berkeley after the Berkeley Police Department’s response to the December 2014 Black Lives Matter protests and the CPE report.

“We’ve tried to reform the PRC several times,” said Councilmember Kriss Worthington. “I’m hopeful with a new mayor, a new city council, we’d have a chance to bring that up.”

These reforms will take steps to improve use-of-force reporting protocols and allow the PRC to gain access to all city departments’ files and records. For the city to change PRC policies, Berkeley citizens will have to vote on a ballot measure in November 2018.

Worthington said he does not want to wait until next year for voters to approve changes to the PRC, so he wants to talk about short-term reforms. City Council submitted the proposed changes to the city manager and city attorney to review by December, according to Worthington.

According to Tuesday’s agenda, the short-term reforms will also include developing training programs for BPD officers about examining police body cameras and tracking yield rates to examine “disparate racial treatment.Worthington said he hopes Berkeley’s PRC will be able to reach regional standards, including those regarding policing disparity policies made by Oakland, San Francisco and BART.

Gibson Chu is the lead city government reporter. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @thegibsonchu.

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