In response to the death of George Floyd and the protests that followed, California Gov. Gavin Newsom directed the statewide Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, or POST, to update law enforcement training and guidance in California.
Newsom’s direction comes after his policing advisers developed a set of recommendations on police response protocols for protests and demonstrations, which were announced in a press release from the Office of the Governor on Tuesday.
“These recommendations follow the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May, and that of other unarmed Black people at the hands of police, and the global protests and demonstrations that ensued,” the press release from Newsom’s office stated.
The press release also states POST has been directed to help law enforcement find ways to identify, monitor and detain those suspected of instigating violence and destruction in protests.
The recommendations were provided by policing advisers Ron Davis, former director of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services under former president Barack Obama’s administration, and Lateefah Simon, president of the Board of Directors for BART.
According to Lieutenant Sabrina Reich from the Berkeley UCPD Community Engagement Unit, UCPD is in the process of reviewing the recommendations.
“We are committed to upholding free speech on our campus,” Reich said in an email. “During protests and demonstrations, our role is to keep the community safe while protecting and facilitating individual’s First Amendment rights.”
In the full report, the advisers recommended that local law enforcement agencies require officers working in direct contact with protesters to wear and turn on body cameras.
The report also encouraged local law enforcement agencies to protect journalists and legal observers, acknowledge and address hate group participation in protests and limit the kinds of weapons and tactics used by officers during protests.
Reich added that although UCPD recognizes it could always improve its policies, the department is already practicing some of the recommendations from Newsom’s advisers. She cited the department’s usage of body cameras, regular officer trainings, and protocol to establish early communication with protest organizers.
Officer Byron White, spokesperson for the Berkeley Police Department, said in an email that it is too early to know how the recommendations will impact the department.
White added, however, that BPD’s First Amendment Assemblies policy already addresses many of the recommendations, including prioritizing communication with protesters before and during an event.
“The role of police officers in protests and demonstrations is to keep the peace, and facilitate the ability of protesters to demonstrate peacefully without infringing on their First Amendment rights,” Newsom said in the press release. “Implementation of these recommendations will help ensure our law enforcement agencies are better equipped to respond safely to protests and demonstrations and reinforce the values of community partnership, de-escalation, and restraint.”