Police Review Commission moves forward with body-worn camera policies

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The Police Review Commission, or PRC, discussed body-worn cameras and public recording policies for the Berkeley Police Department on Wednesday night.

During the meeting, the commission accepted two sections of the body-worn camera policy on which the PRC and BPD had originally disagreed. PRC also decided that Commissioner Andrea Prichett will rewrite General Order W-1 regarding public recording of law enforcement activity and will bring the revised policy to the commission at another meeting.

PRC Officer Katherine Lee met with police chief Andrew Greenwood on behalf of PRC to discuss five body-worn camera policies. PRC agreed to disagree with BPD on three policies that BPD had proposed regarding interrogation, heavy use of force and when the body-worn cameras should be turned on.

PRC, however, approved BPD’s proposal for the use of personally owned recorders if the body-worn camera fails to function. PRC also approved the process through which PRC and the Board of Inquiries can access body-worn camera footage.

“I hope there is a little more transparency,” Commissioner George Lippman said at the meeting. “Council has been waiting two years now for body-worn cameras.”

Prichett led the discussion on General Order W-1, revolving around the clarity and inconsistency in the policy’s language. Prichett said one major issue was not the possibility of a violation of the current policy, but one loophole it allows when recording law enforcement.

“Basically the policy is when cops can take your recording,” Prichett said at the meeting. “The actual act of recordings does not interfere with police activity.”

Commissioner Ari Yampolsky suggested that Prichett use the current policy as a baseline so it would be clear what changes she would like to make before bringing it back to the commission for discussion.

At the next PRC meeting April 26, PRC will review the policy and language it proposed for the ordinance involving the use of body-worn cameras before it is sent to city council.

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