Berkeley Police Review Commission discuss police chief report, ‘Right to Watch’ order

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Amanda Ramirez/Staff

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The Berkeley Police Review Commission held its regular meeting Thursday to discuss the Berkeley Police Department chief’s report and the “Right to Watch” order, otherwise known as General Order W-1.

During the meeting, BPD Chief Andrew Greenwood shared the Police Chief’s Report. He said the department is still understaffed, but has doubled the amount of applicants coming in. Greenwood added that BPD will be sending two people to Washington ,D.C., to recruit people from a historically Black college alumni recruiting fair.

According to Greenwood, BPD is working on creating a standardized format for the department’s after action reports in order to get the reports released faster. He added that the after action reports for the Ben Shapiro event, which sparked a protest of about 700 people, and “Free Speech Week,” which, despite its cancellation, garnered hundreds of protesters, are anticipated to be released at the end of the week.

“Our goal is to come up with a standardized format,” Greenwood said at the meeting. “Although it resulted in a delay, we will move into producing them much more quickly.”

Greenwood also said at the meeting that officers have been working 12-hour shifts, and many have volunteered to work on their days off, to offer necessary support to those affected by the Northern California fires. BPD plans to continue to offer this support through the weekend and anticipates they will be paid back by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, according to Greenwood.

“Fires in the North Bay have really impacted the whole region and our department,” Greenwood said at the meeting. “We’ve sent about a dozen officers since Monday morning.”

At the meeting, Greenwood said that BPD would soon be issuing iPhones for all officers to use to take photos for evidence. He said BPD would also begin training for body-worn cameras Nov. 28, and begin practical implementation starting in early December.

The commission also discussed the newest revision of the General Order W-1 at the meeting. The order seeks to provide guidelines on the rights of the public when observing the police. This general order has gone through several revisions and several more were suggested at the meeting. Among them was changing all instances of the word “citizen” to “members of the public,” and deleting content referring to how police collect evidence by taking out two paragraphs from the order.

Some commissioners, however, expressed their frustration with the proposed changes at the meeting.

“With all the cutting and pasting, we are losing the coherence of a finalized general order,” said Commissioner Andrea Prichett at the meeting.

But PRC Chair George Lippman encouraged the commissioners to finalize the changes to the general order.

“You can tie yourself in knots all night but there is a way to properly do this,” Lippman said at the meeting. “We are going to get through this.”

After approving several of the proposed revisions, the revised order was unanimously accepted by the commission.

Kate Tinney is the lead crime and courts reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @K_Tinney.