Nine months after police action in December’s Black Lives Matter protests, the city’s Police Review Commission passed its latest round of recommendations for Berkeley Police Department on Wednesday night.
As part of its continuing work on police crowd-control policies — spurred by the December protests — the commission approved recommendations related to the use of CS gas, a type of tear gas. These recommendations, among others, will be presented to Berkeley City Council in December.
One recommendation stated that because “it is unclear how decisions were made to continue to deploy CS gas, and whether the continued use was necessary,” BPD should more carefully delineate the kinds of circumstances that may warrant CS gas deployment.
The commission also stipulated that police should make a public announcement prior to using gas on a crowd, in response to BPD’s initial recommendation to the PRC that a warning about impending use of gas be announced over the radio to officers.
“If this goes through (City) Council, it would set in motion a process that relooks at use of CS gas with the notion we (will) have substantial constraints on it,” said Commissioner Terry Roberts at the meeting.
A second recommendation, passed at the same meeting, suggested that BPD and emergency medical personnel create protocols for establishing a secure triage area for treating and evacuating people suffering ill effects of gas exposure.
In order to present its findings to City Council at the council’s Dec. 1 meeting, the commission will need to finish with its investigation, which began in January, by mid-October.
Though he said that he expects the commission will meet this deadline, Roberts said in an email that it “takes time for a commission of nine people to fully understand and make recommendations on the many complex issues involved.”
Campus sophomore and newly appointed Commissioner Jerry Javier said that while he is concerned about time constraints, he believes the commission is “moving through the investigation thoroughly.”
“I’m very interested to see how the narrative that the PRC creates … will reflect what many students actually went through and witnessed,” he said.
The commission decided to postpone nonemergency business unrelated to the ongoing investigation and will be meeting weekly until Oct. 21. Additionally, the commission passed a motion not to redeliberate matters related to the investigation that have already been decided after some members of the commission requested they reconsider a broader ban on CS gas. A similar motion to ban the gas previously failed.
Other topics at the Wednesday meeting included changes to specific language used in a compilation of the commission’s findings and a new BPD general order, issued in July, that details policies on the recording of officers and citizens’ “right to watch.”
The next PRC meeting will be held Wednesday.