BERKELEY'S NEWS • OCTOBER 01, 2022

Police Accountability Board questions selection process of incoming director

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THEO WYSS-FLAMM | SENIOR STAFF

The city Police Accountability Board discussed its role in selecting director of police accountability.

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JUNE 12, 2022

The Berkeley Police Accountability Board, or PAB, heard the chief of police’s report on incidents of interest and discussed concerns about PAB’s role in advising City Council of the selection of the director of police accountability at its regular meeting Wednesday night.

While providing a report for the chief of police, Lt. Robert Rittenhouse discussed an incident that occurred May 13 involving gunfire on Alcatraz Avenue. Rittenhouse also discussed updates about the teenager who was arrested on suspicion of planning a shooting and bombing at Berkeley High School.

“Because the community came forward with vital information, officers were able to intervene,” Rittenhouse said at the meeting. “When the investigation reached a point where we could obtain a warrant, the department made arrangements for the suspect’s arrest. The suspect is currently in custody, his items have been seized.”

According to Rittenhouse, the police department works “quickly and diligently” in verifying tips about potential threat, adding that the department collaborates with school resource officers, school staff, school administrators and detectives.

The board moved on to discuss the first new business agenda item, which was to approve sending a letter to the city manager regarding the PAB’s role in selecting a permanent director of police accountability.

During the discussion, PAB board member Deborah Levine expressed concerns that the role of the PAB in handling recommendations to City Council about the candidates is not clearly outlined.

“It is clear that the selection is ultimately with the City Council, but we are the advisory board,” Levine said at the meeting. “We are acting on behalf of the City Council as a board and as a subcommittee, so we have to be able to inform them about our views.”

Levine said there were a lot of “unanswered questions” about the PAB’s role, adding that they would like candidates’ resumes, reference letters, interview notes and reports ahead of time.

PAB vice chair Nathan Mizell and board members Juliet Leftwich and Kitty Calavita agreed with Levine’s request for clarification. Calavita also supported Levine’s idea of a letter “wholeheartedly,” calling the supposed lack of transparency “concerning.”

“It is all very vague and I feel like we need more specificity,” Calavita said at the meeting. “The contract gives an important role to the PAB and I don’t really see that happening yet.”

Following this, Levine put forward a motion to have the board write a letter to relevant parties, including city managers and Berkeley City Council, to get their questions answered, which Calavita seconded.

PAB board member Cheryl Owens was the lone dissenter of the motion. She said there is nothing that indicates that the PAB has anything to do with the process of the selection of the director.

Contact Victor Corona at 

LAST UPDATED

JUNE 13, 2022


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