Renne Public Law Group recently assisted the City of Berkeley with drafting and negotiating a proposed City ballot measure that would increase police accountability. “We are very pleased that the City Council unanimously approved the proposed charter amendment,” said Founding Partner Jon Holtzman. The measure will be on the ballot this November. A copy of the measure can be found on the City of Berkeley’s website.
Mr. Holtzman worked with Berkeley’s city staff, the City Attorney and the City Council to help shape a unique police oversight model. The proposed Charter Amendment establishes an independent Director of Police Accountability (DPA) and a Police Accountability Board (PAB) to replace the existing Police Review Commission. PAB members are selected by the City Council, and may be removed by a supermajority of the Council. The DPA is appointed by the City Council, and may also be removed by a supermajority of the Council.
The proposed Charter Amendment assigns numerous responsibilities to the PAB, including:
– Making recommendations regarding the policies and operation of the Berkeley Police Department.
– Making recommendations regarding whether discipline is warranted when complaints of officer misconduct are filed with the PAB; and
– Participating in the hiring of the Chief of Police.
Subject to state confidentiality laws, the DPA and PAB are entitled to broad access to Police Department policies, practices, or procedures; personnel and disciplinary records; and Police Department investigative records. The PAB also has the ability to issue subpoenas to obtain records and compel testimony.
The proposed Charter Amendment establishes two processes the public may use to file complaints against police officers. First, complaints may be filed with the DPA and PAB. Second, they may be filed with the Police Department. In both cases, the police chief must issue a final determination sustaining or rejecting a complaint within 240 days. If the DPA/PAB disagree with the Chief on the appropriate resolution of a complaint, the ultimate determination will be made by the City Manager.