UC Berkeley police accountability board addresses safety during first meeting

Photo of Community Safety Board Meeting
Olivia Moore/Staff
During its first public meeting Wednesday, UC Berkeley’s Chancellor’s Independent Advisory Board on Police Accountability and Community Safety discussed the board’s purpose and proposed reforms. The board was formed to address community concerns regarding safety and campus policing.

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UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ’s Independent Advisory Board on Police Accountability and Community Safety, or IAB, met for its first public meeting Wednesday.

Formed in 2019, the IAB is composed of 12 voting members and six nonvoting members, including faculty, students, UCPD Chief Margot Bennett and campus Vice Chancellor for Administration Marc Fisher. The IAB was established to address concerns among community members relating to campus policing and community safety.

“We are super excited to foster dialogue and discourse about campus safety, areas of opportunity for our space and areas of opportunity for the community to get involved in our work,” said Nick Araujo, campus undergraduate student and IAB voting member, during the meeting.

IAB members presented on the board’s function, mission and proposed reforms. Proposals included the installation of a formal support office for victims of sexual violence and sexual harassment, in addition to a mental health response committee.

The board also seeks to change campus policy so that a police officer is not required to be present when an involuntary hospitalization, or 5150, is initiated.

By making recommendations to Christ and Bennett regarding policing policies, the IAB aims to foster a more “expansive” model for community safety that supports vulnerable campus communities, Araujo said during the meeting.

In response to a survey sent out inquiring about the IAB’s first report, the majority of respondents approved of its recommendations, with 55% of campus residents in favor of the removal of UCPD from campus.

Bennett then led a presentation on UCPD’s budget that began with Fisher commenting on the importance of student safety.

“I want to make sure that (parents) understand that your students’ safety and well-being is of paramount importance to the leadership on this campus,” Fisher said in the meeting.

During the presentation, Bennett discussed weapons permitted to be used by UCPD officers, events UCPD supplies security to and the department’s assets. She referred people to the UCPD website for further information.

Students from UC Berkeley’s ethnic studies department also presented during the meeting, where they called for the abolishment of UCPD by September 2021. The students urged the reallocation of university funds from UCPD to student programming, noting the stigmatization of the homeless community and alleging disproportionate “targeting” of Black and transgender students by police.

The meeting concluded with public comment, during which students called for the implementation of preventative crime safety measures, such as adding cameras and lighting to campus locations.

Students also expressed concerns over the lack of clarity surrounding UCPD’s budget.

“We have heard you,” said Rucker Johnson, board co-chair and UC Berkeley faculty member, during the meeting. “We have people on our IAB membership that are very committed, and we are in partnership with many other units on campus.”

Contact Olivia Moore at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @olivia_moore18 .