Berkeley Police Accountability Board discusses community issues, complaints

photo of the Berkeley Police Department
Andrew Huang/File
City of Berkeley community members urge the Berkeley Police Accountability Board to fix its complaint system.

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The Berkeley Police Accountability Board, or PAB, met Wednesday evening to discuss complaints of police misconduct, recent shootings, gun recoveries, bike patrols and police vaccinations.

During public comment, several speakers used their time to urge PAB to fix the system to file complaints against police misconduct that existed under the previous Police Review Commission.

Elliot Halpern, who has worked with the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP and fielded complaints from the African American community, said during public comment that there was a “distrust” of the complaint process, and that PAB has a “mandate” to fix the system.

Kitt Saginor, a Berkeley resident, emphasized the severity of the issue.

“The kinds of complaints that you hear? These are not trivial matters,” Saginor said at the meeting. “These are matters of police misconduct, where there are credible allegations that a police officer has really acted in a way that is incompatible with what the city of Berkeley needs.”

Berkeley Police Department Chief Jen Louis also spoke at the meeting. Louis first updated PAB on the 29 shootings which have occurred this year. According to Louis, that is up from 20 shootings this time last year.

In response, Louis said the BPD has increased the number of bike patrols in affected neighborhoods, citing their effectiveness at building relationships with the community.

“We have found that the bike patrols have been one of our most effective resources,” Louis said at the meeting. “They’re more approachable; they’re able to spend the time connecting to community members in an area where they’re needed.”

The BPD has also recovered 70 firearms this year, said Louis. Of these 70 guns, 17 were ghost guns, or guns without serial numbers. These guns were primarily obtained through responding to citizens’ reports, proactive traffic enforcement and the work of detective units.

Boardmember Michael Chang requested Louis give an update regarding BPD’s COVID-19 vaccination status. Louis said the city is currently discussing vaccine mandates, and that in the meantime, BPD has maintained COVID-19 safety by wearing masks.

“Our quarantine process and policy to wear N95, or wear protective surgical masks when they’re within 6 feet from other individuals when traveling in a car with another officer, has really allowed us to maintain safety, not only for the community but for each other,” Louis said.

Christopher Ying is the lead crime and courts reporter. Contact him at [email protected], and follow him on Twitter at @ChrisYingg.