Agency: Police Review Commission (PRC) (Current as of September, 2013)
Police Review Commission
1947 Center Street, 3rd Floor
Berkeley, CA 94704
Agency website: www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/prc
Type of oversight agency/mechanism: Investigative, Commission
Oversight of: Berkeley Police Department (BPD) (municipal police agency)
Number of sworn police officers: 170 (2013)
Population of city: 112,580 (2013)
Enabling Authority: Berkeley City Ordinance 4644-N.S. April 17, 1973 (see Attachment 1)
Staff: 3 total
- Police Review Commission Officer (administrator) (See Attachment 2, PRC Officer job description,)
- Civilian Police Review Commission Investigator (See Attachment 3, PRC Investigator job description,)
- Office Specialist.
Annual Budget: Approximately $535,837 (2013)
- Receives complaints
- Classifies complaints
- Investigates complaints using civilian investigators
- Adjudicates allegations of misconduct
- Reviews and makes recommendations on BPD policies
- Holds public forums allowing citizens to voice concerns relating to BPD policies and procedures.
Scope of agency’s authority:
Police officers are ordered to appear at interviews and hearings by the Chief of Police
Mediation is an option if both the complainant and subject officer agree to participate. The mediation is conducted by volunteer mediators at a non-profit community-based organization called SEEDS (Services that Encourage Dialogue and Solutions) which specializes in this service. During this process, the complainant and subject officer have the opportunity to speak to and respond to each other in a respectful environment. At the conclusion of mediation, the case is forwarded to the Commission for administrative closure. As of 2013, there are no restrictions on the kinds of cases which are eligible for mediation. (See Section II. B., PRC Regulations in Attachment 4).
Volunteer Board or Commission:
The Berkeley Police Review Commission (PRC) consists of nine volunteer commissioners who must be residents of the city. The Mayor and City Council members appoint commissioners for a two-year term. Commissioners receive $3 per hour up to a maximum of $200 per month. (See City of Berkeley Commissioners’ Manual, Attachment 12)
The mission of the Police Review Commission is to provide for community participation in setting and reviewing police department policies, practices, and procedures and to provide a means for prompt, impartial, and fair investigation of complaints brought by individuals against the Berkeley Police Department.
- Intake: In addition to accepting policy complaints regarding general departmental policies, the PRC also investigates complaints of alleged misconduct against individual officers. Such complaints must be written, signed by the aggrieved person, and filed within 90 days of the incident. PRC staff must prepare notice of allegations within 20 business days of receiving the complaint. While the PRC is required to forward all complaints to IA, IA is not required to send all complaints it receives to the PRC.
- Formal Investigation: The Commission and IA investigate complaints independent of one another and often at the same time. Officers are required to participate in the PRC investigation process and to submit to interviews. The PRC Investigator collects relevant documentary evidence and conducts recorded interviews with the complainant, subject officer(s), and any witnesses. The investigator prepares a report which contains a summary of the investigation, transcripts of all interviews, relevant policies or procedures, and any other documentary evidence.
- Hearings: The Commission may dismiss any or all allegations in a complaint through administrative closure. Such closure can occur in situations including but not limited to, when the complaint is frivolous or does not allege misconduct on its face, when the complainant fails to cooperate, or when the complainant requests closure. If a complaint is not dismissed after a completed investigation by PRC staff, a Board of Inquiry is held. The Board is made up of three members from the Commission. During the closed-session hearing, they review the evidence and consider the testimony of the complainant, subject officer(s), and any witnesses. (See PRC Hearing Procedures, Attachment 5)
- Findings: The standard of review for the board’s findings is one of “clear and convincing evidence.” The board may find as follows: unfounded, exonerated, not sustained, and sustained. Board findings are forwarded to the City Manager and the Chief of Police and are advisory. Findings may only be considered by the City Manager and Chief for purposes of discipline if they are made within 120 days of the filing of the complaint.
- Appeals: Within 15 days of the board’s findings, a complainant may petition for a rehearing. A rehearing is only granted if there was substantial procedural error or where there is newly discovered material evidence which could not have been produced at the hearing. Where an allegation is sustained as to a subject officer, the officer may file a Caloca appeal. An administrative law judge from the California Office of Administrative Hearings reviews the record from the hearing and undertakes independent fact finding and independent re-examination of the board’s findings.
The PRC reviews and makes recommendations on BPD policies and also holds public forums allowing Berkeley citizens to voice concerns relating to BPD policies and procedures. The PRC also creates subcommittees as needed to research and provide recommendations to the full commission pertaining to police-related issues. One particular subcommittee is formed each year to review law enforcement mutual aid agreements. Statistical reports for each calendar year are prepared by staff and posted online.
- PRC Ordinances and Regulations: http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/Police_Review_Commission/Home/Ordinances_and_Regulations.aspx
- PRC Hearing Procedures: http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/Police_Review_Commission/Home/Hearing_Procedures.aspx
- PRC Reports and Statistics: http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/Police_Review_Commission/Home/Statistical_Reports.aspx