Commission to investigate March 3 Berkeley police crowd control tactics

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The Berkeley Police Review Commission voted to launch an investigation into the Berkeley Police Department's crowd control tactics at its meeting Wednesday night after receiving a complaint alleging the excessive use of force on the part of police at protests on the UC Berkeley campus.

The complaint was brought to the commission by Berkeley Copwatch member Andrea Prichett, who said at the meeting that she was concerned with the department's possible use of pepper spray and less lethal munitions at the March 3 protest. Prichett also requested in her complaint that the commission review the mutual aid agreement between the Berkeley police and UCPD.

"I was concerned that the BPD had been needlessly deployed to that situation," she said at the meeting. "What has to be happening on campus to warrant that kind of transfer of expense?"

Commissioner George Perezvelez said at the meeting that the mutual aid pact also works in favor of the Berkeley Police Department.

"The city of Berkeley needs to have pacts with other cities for them to operate," he said.

Prichett said she was also concerned that because she was acting as a third-party in bringing the complaint - having merely observed the police actions - she would not be allowed to act as a witness should the investigation lead to a hearing.

According to Perezvelez, a similar third-party complaint had been accepted by the city's Commission on Labor, another commission he serves on.

Prichett also raised issue with being denied access to force reports from the Berkeley police, which are protected under the Public Records Act.

Perezvelez said that launching an investigation would mean the commission could subpoena the records.

Contact Sarah Burns at [email protected]

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