Police Review Commission demands more police oversight

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Doug Smith/Staff

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The Police Review Commission, or PRC, voted to draft a letter to the city asking for the development of a police accountability program as a part of its demands for more oversight on Berkeley Police Department at its meeting Wednesday evening.

In its regular meeting, the PRC voted to write a letter to the city manager, asking for the implementation of the Good Governance Police Accountability Plan. This proposal would require BPD to create annual goals and plans, as well as work with a data analyst to evaluate the success of the new plans.

Commissioner Andrea Prichett initially proposed both the accountability plan and a performance audit of BPD. She added that audits are common for other police departments but alleged that none have been conducted in Berkeley.

“I’d like to get some answers, I’d like to get some data,” Prichett said. “It feels like it’s responsible to be asking: Where are people being deployed?”

Although the commission decided to postpone a decision on the audit, it adopted Prichett’s accountability proposal. Prichett voiced her objections to the postponement of the vote on the audit.

“In general, I support going down this path, … because you’ll find in most cities, most cities have performance budgets these days,” commissioner Terry Roberts said. “It’s focused on what are you going to do, … how are you going to get there, what are your goals, so you can have something that is measurable, which is reasonable.”

According to Prichett, the city’s necessity for a data analyst stems from the need to analyze vast amounts of data that are currently “not readable.” Prichett referenced police budget matters and deployment effectiveness as areas of potential inquiry.

The commission also passed a motion to approve the Law Enforcement Mutual Aid Plan, with an amendment making BPD directly responsible for all resources and personnel shared by other police departments. Commissioner Michael Sherman expressed concern that such a mutual aid plan between departments could potentially lead to the unintentional provision of resources to ICE.

The PRC also listened to a report by Berkeley Police Chief Andrew Greenwood, who spoke on staffing shortages and training updates, as well as a rise of laptop thefts from local cafes. There have been a string of laptop thefts in Berkeley recently — in the month of January alone, there were 16 separate laptop thefts. According to Greenwood, during most of these thefts, individuals enter cafes, look for people who aren’t paying attention and grab their laptops from them. Greenwood added, however, that BPD has made several arrests.

“We have our fair share of cafes in here in town and we’ve had a bunch of these cases,” Greenwood said. “We are increasing patrols.”

Sophia Brown-Heidenreich covers city government. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @sophiabrownh.