Berkeley Police Review Commission discusses surveillance policy, introduces new commissioner

Nirvana Ellaboudy/Staff

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Berkeley’s Police Review Commission, or PRC, introduced a new member of the commission, learned that Commissioner Terry Roberts would be leaving the team at the end of July and discussed police surveillance policies at its regular Wednesday night meeting.

After public comment, the meeting began with the introduction of the newest commissioner, Michael Chang, appointed by City Councilmember Sophie Hahn. According to Chang, he has served as a lecturer at UC Berkeley and a civil rights attorney. Chang said he believes the PRC is a “very important body.”

“(The PRC is) an important city body for providing a public venue for transparency and engagement, which are both critical for due process,” Chang said at the meeting.

Next, the Berkeley police chief’s report was read by Lt. Peter Hong. According to the report read by Hong, the police department received 232 applications for commissioner — nearly double the number of applications received in the last process.

The majority of the meeting was spent in discussion of reviewing and approving Berkeley Police Department’s surveillance use policies and surveillance acquisition reports under the Surveillance Technology Use and Community Safety Ordinance, which was revised by BPD after discussion on June 12. 

Many of the commissioners had the same reservations about body-worn cameras in the surveillance policy that they had during their previous discussion on body-worn cameras in earlier meetings — namely, they had reservations about when officers would be able to review body-worn camera footage.

After reviewing policy 1300, the Body Worn Camera Surveillance Use Policy and Acquisition Report, the commission passed a motion to approve the policy, noting that the commission objects to section 1300.4, which concerns data access.

The commission postponed its decision on policies 1301, the Global Positioning System Trackers Acquisition Report, and 1302, the Automated License Plate Reader Surveillance Use Policy, as many commissioners wanted more information on both policies.

At the end of the meeting, Roberts announced that he would be leaving the commission at the end of the month.

“It’s time to move on. It’s been … around four years, so it’s time for other people to step in and do some things. I really enjoyed my work,” Roberts said at the meeting.

During the meeting, the PRC also unanimously voted to create a Use of Force Subcommittee and unanimously approved eight Lexipol policies, including policies surrounding vehicle maintenance, recruitment and selection, and prison rape elimination.

Sabrina Dong is the executive news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @Sabrina_Dong_.