BERKELEY'S NEWS • SEPTEMBER 26, 2022

‘A procedural issue’: Police Accountability Board addresses concerns

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ANDREW HUANG | STAFF

Members of the Berkeley Police Accountability Board, or PAB, alleged that they were lied to by the Berkeley police chief during their regular Wednesday meeting.

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JULY 17, 2022

During Wednesday’s Police Accountability Board, or PAB, meeting, the board members alleged that the Berkeley chief of police lied to the PAB and that the deputy city manager marginalized the board.

PAB chair Michael Chang began the meeting by thanking the service of PAB’s interim director, Katherine Lee, noting that she is retiring soon after 33 years in the city of Berkeley. According to Lee, City Council will appoint the new director at its July 26 meeting.

“I will make myself available to board members and the new director as needed,” Lee said during the meeting. “I’m not going to disappear into a black hole, because I believe in this work and I’m willing to ensure that my successor is able to pick up the reins.”

Vice chair Nathan Mizell addressed comments that he voiced during Tuesday’s City Council meeting where he expressed frustration about the PAB’s inability to offer a thorough review of police-related policy and procedures.

Noting that he was speaking as an individual not as vice chair Mizell emphasized that his “anger” was not about the board’s lack of decision-power abilities, which the council has, but was instead about city processes.

Mizell also said the council acted to change a policy without informing the PAB. According to the annotated City Council agenda, the council revised Section 311.6, enabling Berkeley police officers to conduct detentions and warrantless searches of individuals on parole or probation consistent with the probationer’s or parolee’s release conditions.

Mizell also noted a May 11 PAB meeting where the chief of police was asked if the police department could help the board review a policy for controlled equipment, saying that the police chief had agreed.

However, during the following PAB meeting, the police department “threatened” to leave the meeting if the board’s order of operations was not aligned with what the department wanted, according to Mizell.

“That’s a procedural issue. The chief lied to us,” Mizell said at the meeting. “If not, the chief has no control over her own top brass. Either way, it’s extremely concerning.”

Mizell added that strong police oversight is not possible if the chief of police can lie to the PAB.

He added that the board needs to be able to be part of City Council discussions.

“I fear we are in the position of becoming irrelevant,” Mizell said. “We as a board need to have straight answers if we’re going to do actual oversight.”

Board member Deborah Levine said she echoes Mizell’s comments, adding that she is also concerned about the lack of answers that were requested from Deputy City Manager LaTanya Bellow concerning the director selection process.

Levine said the lack of answers marginalizes the PAB, adding that her concerns are legitimate.

The board discussed recommendations for controlled equipment and will meet again July 20.

Contact Victor Corona at 

LAST UPDATED

JULY 17, 2022


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