Berkeley Police Review Commission reviews online survey, makes closing remarks

photo of BPD cars
Andrew Huang/Staff
The Berkeley Police Review Commission’s final meeting reflected on the commission’s impending transition to become the Police Accountability Board and Berkeley residents’ polarizing perspectives on both the commission and the Berkeley Police Department.

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During its final meeting Wednesday, the Berkeley Police Review Commission, or PRC, discussed the results from an online public survey and reflected on the end of the commission.

On May 26, the PRC distributed a survey to the public to gain insight on residents’ opinions on and knowledge of the PRC, according to a written memo read by PRC commissioner Kitty Calavita at the meeting. The survey was created and conducted by the commission’s subcommittee on outreach and was intended to raise awareness on the existence of the PRC and its eventual transition into the Police Accountability Board, or PAB. 

According to the memo, the survey received responses from 258 individuals. 

“Members of the Outreach Subcommittee, and the PRC generally, are aware that this cannot pretend to be a scientific survey, as the respondents by no means comprise a scientifically random sample,” the memo reads. “Nonetheless, we believe that the quantitative and qualitative responses may provide some useful information as the PAB moves forward.”

The results revealed polarizing opinions about the Berkeley Police Department and the commission. 

Nine respondents expressed appreciation for the work done by the BPD, whereas 11 made various police reform suggestions. 

Ten respondents raised concerns that the PRC is biased against the police, while 10 other respondents wanted to empower or publicize the commission’s work. Other results from the survey showed that 75% of respondents did not have any complaints to file against the PRC while 11% of respondents did not know how to file a complaint.

“One thing is clear from the survey: Further outreach is required to inform the public of the existence of the oversight body and to explain its functions, while at the same time listening to their concerns,” the memo reads.

During its meeting, the commission unanimously approved the survey results.

As Wednesday marked the end of the PRC, many attendees acknowledged the commission’s work during public comment. Commissioners also reflected on their own growth.

“This has been a real education,” said PRC commissioner Elisa Mikiten at the meeting. “The one thing I think I could’ve done better is establish better relationships with members of the public. This outreach effort was an initial effort to reverse the flow of conversation.”

The commission will be replaced by the new PAB, which residents voted to establish in November. 

Some existing PRC members plan to continue their work of civilian police oversight on the new board with their experience from the commission. Several transitioning PRC members also said they look forward to working with their colleagues at the PAB.

“I’ve learned a ton, and I’m really proud of all the work we’ve done,” PRC commissioner Juliet Leftwich at the meeting. 

Contact Ashley Tsai at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @ashleyttsai.