Berkeley Police Review Commission discusses police body cameras

Alexandra Zhu/Staff

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Berkeley’s Police Review Commission, or PRC, discussed concerns regarding police officers muting their body cameras at its meeting Feb. 26.

Police Review Commissioner Juliet Leftwich initiated a discussion about whether to open a review of Berkeley Police Department’s actions concerning the muting of body-worn cameras. She added that the topic was brought to her attention through a complaint filed to the board of inquiries, but later dismissed.

“Our investigation and review of the file indicated that there was some confusion among the officers regarding, particularly relating to, when they are prohibited to turn the cameras on and off, and they weren’t complying with the requirement that they either provide notes or a statement regarding the reasons for turning it off,” Leftwich alleged during the meeting. “That’s part of the policy.”

There is a lack of clarity concerning when to mute the camera, according to BPD Chief Andrew Greenwood. If officers mute their cameras, they are required to report their reason for doing so, Greenwood said during the meeting.

Greenwood added that changing the policy is unnecessary, as the issue can be fixed by implementing more training and disciplinary measures.

Currently, officers are allowed to mute their body cameras during searches, according to Daniel Morales, a Berkeley police associate. He added that BPD is talking to officers about the importance of keeping their cameras unmuted during searches as interactions are ongoing.

“The purpose of the body-worn cameras is to capture the officers’ interaction with people, not necessarily with each other,” Greenwood said during the meeting. “I want those cameras to be on when we are interacting with people, and the officers are doing their job.”

There will be substantial discussion on the body camera policy at the Berkeley City Council meeting March 10.

Contact Nina Narahari at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ninanarahari_dc.