The city of Berkeley’s Police Accountability Board, or PAB, introduced its new director and addressed measures taken after last week’s Southside shooting at its regular meeting on Wednesday.
Hansel Aguilar, the PAB’s new director, has done civilian oversight work in Fairfax County and Charlottesville, Virginia, and has a background in criminal justice and a Ph.D. in sociology, he said during the meeting. He is currently finishing his term as the executive director of Charlottesville’s Police Civilian Oversight Board and is set to start work in Berkeley on Oct. 24.
Aguilar noted the warm welcome he received from staff and the commitment to the Berkeley community many individuals have shown. Aguilar also expressed that he is committed to gaining community trust.
“Just because you got the position doesn’t mean people necessarily trust you,” Aguilar said at the PAB meeting. “I know that I’m going to have to work for your trust, and I appreciate that you’ve given me this opportunity.”
As director, Aguilar will contribute to the PAB’s work of providing objectivity in their review of Berkeley Police Department policies, practices and procedures, according to the PAB website. In addition, he will also take part in providing timely and fair investigations of complaints that civilians file against employees of BPD.
Members of the community, including Berkeley Law students Amelia Gallay, Wesley Dunkirk and Ian Feather, spoke up during public comment. The three asked what measures PAB has taken to solicit complaints from the community and whether the board has used the investigative powers it was given in 2021.
“I know that it’s very important for us practitioners of oversight, as we represent the community, to be very communicative in being able to express what we did, how we came to our conclusions and our analysis and also making sure we do this in a timely manner,” Aguilar said. “We know that justice delayed is justice denied.”
Following public comments, Michael Durbin, representing BPD, gave updates on the response to the Oct. 8 shooting on Telegraph and Durant Avenues.
According to Durbin, BPD has been experiencing understaffing which presents problems maintaining some overtime patrol assignments. One of these is the Southside Safety Patrol, which keeps a visible police presence on Telegraph Avenue.
“In spite of having less officers working this past weekend than we have in the past, we’re pretty proud of our officers’ response,” Durbin said at the meeting.
Durbin noted that over the last year, the patrol was “maybe staffed a quarter of the time.” This year, the department is struggling to staff overtime assignments more than in previous years.
With the understaffing, Durbin added that BPD is talking about what changes to services and units will look like in the future.
“We’re still trying to do the best we can to be as efficient and effective as possible with the resources we do have here,” Durbin said.