UC Berkeley law staff suggest strengthening campus police reforms

Carol Christ
Jihoon Park/File
In its letter to Chancellor Carol Christ, UC Berkeley School of Law’s Staff Community Circle on Anti-racism put forward recommendations for improving equity in ensuring community safety.

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A group of 31 staff members engaged in the UC Berkeley School of Law’s Staff Community Circle on Anti-racism, or SCAR, plans to send a letter to UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ endorsing recommendations for reimagining campus safety.

On June 30, the Chancellor’s Independent Advisory Board, or IAB, on Police Accountability and Community Safety released a report outlining the recommendations. With the deadline to submit feedback on the report coming up Aug. 7, the staff members at Berkeley Law are urging the campus community to participate in public comment, saying ongoing support for police reform is required for the IAB’s recommendations to be implemented.

The IAB put forward 27 recommendations for improving equity in ensuring community safety, which the board developed throughout the year using city and campus policing data as well as community listening sessions.

SCAR’s letter supported the IAB’s recommendation to integrate mental health resources in police training. The group also suggested other recommendations be strengthened, such as taking the recommendation to eliminate UCPD’s military-grade equipment one step further by “severe restriction” of the use of nonlethal weapons including tear gas and pepper spray.

“It’s important for the campus community to be involved in the conversation,” said professor Nikki Jones, IAB faculty co-chair.

Jones added that she thinks public comment is an opportunity for community members to add ideas for transforming safety that the report might have missed.

Alexey Berlind, SCAR member and staff at Berkeley Law’s Human Rights Center, said he thinks staff feedback on the IAB report is important because staff members have unique insight into the work that goes into making policy change a reality.

“We get an inside view on how things work here, and we understand things work slowly and bureaucratically,” Berlind said. “Making these recommendations into policy is going to require widespread popular support, which can come this week in the form of public comment.”

Berlind said time, money and internal pushback often prevent meaningful recommendations from being implemented and he does not want that to happen with this report.

Campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof said campus administration will wait to implement the IAB report’s recommendations until it listens to community feedback.

Contact Ruby Sutton at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @rubysutton_.