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November 3, 2020 — California General Election
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Local

City of Berkeley
Measure II Charter Amendment - Majority Approval Required

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Election Results

Passed

50,244 votes yes (84.65%)

9,112 votes no (15.35%)

100% of precincts reporting (33/33).

Shall the measure amending the Berkeley City Charter to create an independent Berkeley Police Accountability Board and Director of Police Accountability to provide oversight of the Berkeley Police Department (Department) policies, practices, and procedures; obtain access to records; investigate complaints filed by members of the public against sworn employees of the Department; and recommend discipline of sworn employees of the Department, based upon a preponderance of the evidence, be adopted?

What is this proposal?

Measure Details — Official information about this measure

Impartial analysis / Proposal

CITY ATTORNEY’S IMPARTIAL ANALYSIS OF MEASURE II Current Law 

In 1973, Berkeley voters approved an ordinance establishing the Police Review Commission (“PRC”).  That ordinance authorizes the PRC to investigate complaints, conduct hearings, and issue findings regarding police misconduct claims.  The Police Chief and City Manager may consider these findings when determining whether to discipline a City police officer. 

The Proposed Charter Amendment 

This proposed Charter Amendment would establish the Police Accountability Board 

(“Board”) to replace the existing PRC and create new procedures for reviewing police misconduct claims.  The Board would consist of nine (9) members selected by the Mayor and City Council.  The Charter Amendment would also create the office of Director of Police Accountability (“Director”), who would be appointed by the City Council to serve as the Board secretary and be responsible for investigating complaints against sworn members of the Berkeley Police Department.  The Charter Amendment would allow the City Council to vote to remove any Board member or the Director. 

The Board would have the following powers and duties: 

• Make recommendations regarding the operation of the Police Department, including review of the Department budget,

• Review complaints against sworn members of the Berkeley Police Department and recommend disciplinary actions,

• Access records, compel testimony and issue subpoenas as needed to carry out its functions, subject to applicable state confidentiality laws,

• Review agreements between the Police Department and other law enforcement, military or private security organizations,

• Participate in the hiring of the Chief of Police,

• Adopt rules and regulations necessary to conduct its business,

• Any other powers or duties the Council may assign.

The Charter Amendment would establish two separate processes by which a member of the public could submit a police misconduct complaint:   

1. Complaints filed with the Police Accountability Board

A member of the public could submit a complaint to the Board by filing the complaint with the Director.  The complaint would be investigated by the Director and decided on by the Board following a confidential hearing in which the Board would determine whether misconduct had occurred based upon a “preponderance of the evidence.”  The Board would then recommend whether disciplinary action is appropriate, and in certain cases, the level of discipline. In most cases, the Chief of Police would decide the nature and extent of discipline imposed following a finding that misconduct has occurred.   

2. Complaints filed with the Berkeley Police Department

Alternatively, a member of the public could file a complaint with the Police Department, after which the Chief of Police would make a decision as to the need for disciplinary action.  A complainant could contest the Chief of Police’s decision by requesting review by the Director and Board.     

Under both procedures, a final determination would be required within 240 days of the complaint.  In the event of disagreement between the Board and the Chief of Police, the City Manager would make a final determination.   

This Charter Amendment was placed on the ballot by the City Council.  

The above statement is an impartial analysis of Measure II. 

s/FARIMAH BROWN Berkeley City Attorney 

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR

ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF MEASURE II 

Berkeley police officers must be held to the highest standards of conduct. Measure II establishes an independent agency to investigate complaints and ensure effective civilian oversight of police conduct. This measure results from an unprecedented collaborative process between Berkeley Police, the Police Review Commission, and City Council. 

The Charter Amendment replaces the Police Review Commission, established in 1973, with a new Police Accountability Board, with expanded powers to investigate police misconduct and provide civilian oversight. 

A Director of Police Accountability would provide professional oversight and investigate complaints, make independent findings, and recommend corrective action. This is estimated to cost approximately $300,000 per year, less than 0.5% of the Police Department’s current budget. Other provisions include: 

• extending the deadline for people to file and for the Board to review complaints (many complaints are not thoroughly investigated because the timeframe is far shorter than in other cities);

• adopting a more reasonable standard of proof for complaints (the current unreasonably high burden of proof is inconsistent with that of other cities);

• requiring officers to testify and city administration to provide relevant records;

• recommending discipline in cases of serious misconduct;

• using complaint and other information to propose policy changes to ensure fair and impartial policing, address racial inequities, and protect civil liberties;

• advising the City Council on the hiring of the Chief of Police with final approval remaining with the elected City Council.

The City Council would still have ultimate say over policing policy and the City Manager’s Office would retain its authority over police department management. 

Voting YES on Measure II will give the Police Accountability Board the authority and resources to thoroughly investigate misconduct allegations, propose discipline, and review police policies to protect civil rights and liberties and address racial and other disparities. 

For a more accountable Berkeley, join us in voting YES on Measure II. 

s/Elliot Halpern Board Member ACLU Berkeley/North East Bay Chapter 

s/David Muhammad Executive Director, National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform 

s/Ty Alper Professor, U.C. Berkeley School of Law (For Identification Purposes Only); Vice-President, Berkeley School Board  

s/Mansour Id-Deen President, Berkeley NAACP 

s/Kitty Calavita Chair, Berkeley Police Review Commission, Chancellor’s Professor Emerita of Criminology, Law & Society, UC Irvine (For Identification Purposes Only) 

 

Arguments AGAINST

none

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