New Policies to Remedy UC Police Complaint Procedure

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New UC Police Department procedures and UC Police Review Board policies have been approved in an attempt to better accommodate complaints against the department.

After nearly a decade using the same complaint procedure, the UC Police Review Board, which is responsible for taking up appeals against UC police officers, has revised the process, said interim ASUC Student Advocate and UC Police Review Board member Alex Kipnis.

Kipnis said a key policy change will enable the review board to compel a UC police officer under investigation to testify for misconduct.

Board members will now be trained in the policies and procedures of the department, and a Berkeley community member will also become a review board member.

Despite the policy improvements, critics said the entire system is still flawed, since the complaint process remains the same.

"They are trying to make the system more user-friendly without changing the system," said Johnny Sircar, former chief of staff of the ASUC Student Advocate Office.

When a UC Berkeley student or a Berkeley resident wants to file a complaint against UC police, the person making the complaint fills out a form and submits it to the UC police, Sircar said.

From there, the department determines if the complaint has any merit and will respond to the person making the complaint if they found any wrongdoing to have taken place, he said.

The UC police officer has the right to file with the review board, which then examines the complaint using a variety of evidence. After the board's private investigation, the review board makes a recommendation to the police department.

"There is some ambiguity as to how much they get to see the police department implement the recommendation," Sircar said. "And (the review board) has no power to implement the recommendation."

Kipnis said the review board is powerless to investigate disciplinary recommendations, since state law mandates that disciplinary action against officers remain private.

Because the UC police investigate all complaints against themselves, Sircar said, little action can come from their investigations.

"As of this moment, the police have never found their department guilty of wrongdoing," he said.

The UC Police Review Board became more active in 1997, when a protest outside of Sproul Hall resulted in UC police officers pepper spraying student demonstrators, said Barbara Attard, a member of the Berkeley Police Review Commission, which is not related to the UC review board.

Mark Schlosberg, vice chair of Berkeley Police Review Commission, said he was a member of the UC Police Review Board at the time of the Sproul Hall incident. At the time, the review board had not met for two years.

"(The proof of misconduct) called for changes in the review process," Schlosberg said. "We wanted public hearings and a Police Review Board that met regularly with the meetings open to public. Prior to this the Police Review Board was not allowed to initiate investigations. We felt the need to be able to investigate."

Kipnis said he believes the new policies will give the review board more authority.

"I am pleased that the chancellor took the board's advice and promulgated the necessary policy changes," he said. "While this does not create an independent oversight authority over the actions of UCPD officers, the new procedures are a major improvement over the 1990 policies."

Erin McLaughlin contributed to this report.


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