The UC Berkeley Police Review Board held its annual public meeting Friday afternoon to discuss its activity over the course of 2016 and hear feedback from the public on UCPD’s conduct.
The board, which includes faculty, student and law enforcement representatives, met in the Arthur Andersen Auditorium at the Haas School of Business. About six members of the public attended the meeting — an increase from last year, when only one attended.
According to the board’s ASUC representative campus senior Boomer Vicente, PRB’s primary responsibilities are to rule on appeals of complaints against UCPD officers and to monitor and review UCPD policies.
“My role is to … represent undergraduates at that level … (and to) try to bring the perspective of different communities,” Vicente said. “(This meeting is an) opportunity to engage with the public about our work.”
The board only had one ruling on a complaint to announce during the meeting, so the remaining time was used to discuss public inquiries and concerns, many of which were about the complaint process.
UC Berkeley alumnus Mark Desmond, who regularly attends PRB public meetings, alleged that he had once filed a complaint only to be redirected to a department that didn’t exist. Campus senior Kerby Lynch also alleged that they were mistreated when they tried to go through the complaint process.
Desmond and Lynch both addressed UCPD’s relationship with the student community. Desmond said he noticed that UCPD has had a diminished presence on campus compared to previous years. He suggested several methods of breaking that isolation, including civilian ride-alongs and a citizen’s police academy.
Lynch said UCPD made them, along with other Black students on campus, feel unwelcome.
“As a Black student, I feel so hunted here,” Lynch said. “We’re being seen as a nuisance.”
PRB was receptive to the audience’s comments on the tense relationship between students and campus police, but board members also explained that they were limited in their ability to act.
PRB chair Laura Kray acknowledged the need for increased communication between UCPD and the campus community. PRB community representative John Cummins also encouraged Lynch to go to the administration with their proposed changes for UCPD’s model and garner support from student organizations.
“There has to be a way that we can start being better than this,” said PRB staff representative Elizabeth Geno. “We have to do better as a community.”
Some of the community members who attended the session expressed a desire to become active in UCPD oversight and continue attending PRB meetings.
“This board is something that comes from a progressive heritage,” Desmond said. “It has to be kept alive.”