Police Accountability Board discusses handling investigations, complaints

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Anita Liu/Staff
The Berkeley Police Accountability Board met Wednesday to discuss police officer discipline and a proposed draft regulation for handling investigations.

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The Berkeley Police Accountability Board, or PAB, reviewed a draft of proposed regulations for handling investigations and complaints during its special meeting Wednesday.

In addition to reviewing the draft, the board heard comments from members of the public, which included concerns related to anonymous complaints, police officer discipline and the authority of the PAB.

“As you consider the various parts of the regulations, consider hypotheticals,” said a commenter during the public portion of the meeting. “I don’t think the police department has terrible actors, but if there are bad actors, you need to be able to deal with this — for instance, in the case of anonymous complaints.”

The public commenter noted the Berkeley Police Department’s internal complaint process allows for anonymous complaints. They added that the PAB should consider the question of whether they should allow the public to be able to put forth anonymous complaints toward the PAB.

The commenter suggested that the board consider the hypothetical situation in which someone is closely acquainted with a police officer and cannot “at any stage” risk their identity being known to the officer. In the situation where there is evidence of serious misconduct against a police officer, there needs to be a way for the PAB to deal with the situation, the commenter said.

After the initial public comment portion, the board spent two hours reviewing and editing the language of its draft for proposed permanent “Regulations for Handling Investigations and Complaints.”

At the end of the meeting during the second public commenting portion, a commenter raised a concern that the PAB is allegedly “running amok.”

The commenter said the recommendations from the PAB do not automatically discipline a police officer.

According to the commenter, the PAB can only recommend that the chief of police take disciplinary action against an officer, but this recommendation can be denied. If denied, the recommendation does not go back to the PAB, but instead goes to the director of police accountability, the commenter said.

Furthermore, if the director happens to disagree with the chief of police, the recommendation is reviewed by the city manager, according to the commenter.

“There are three more pairs of eyes on something before actual discipline would be imposed on a police officer,” the commenter said during the meeting. “The Police Accountability Board needs to do its due diligence and so forth. But I do think that the whole set up doesn’t give the Police Accountability Board quite as much power as some people seem to fear that it does.”

The board will meet Tuesday to discuss the approved “Controlled Equipment Impact Statements” and local and state laws.

Victor Corona is the lead crime and courts reporter. Contact him at [email protected], and follow him on Twitter at @victorcoronas.