The Police Accountability Board, or PAB, swore in a member and addressed subcommittee rearrangements during its regular meeting Wednesday.
The session began with the swearing in of nominee Leah Wilson, who is now officially part of the PAB.
Wilson was nominated by District 5 Councilmember Sophie Hahn and has previously held positions as executive director of the California State Bar and court executive officer for the Alameda County Superior Court.
“Leah Wilson has demonstrated dedication to police accountability and criminal justice reform. As a past BUSD Board President she is keenly aware of the concerns of families with children around safety,” Hahn said in an email. “Leah has served our city and state with distinction and we are fortunate to have someone of her statute join the board at this formative junction.”
Wilson fills one of the five vacancies on the board, a process which, according to PAB Chair John Moore, includes an application, background check and voting in by the Berkeley City Council.
Moore also clarified that William Williams, District 8 Councilmember Mark Humbert’s nominee, will no longer be serving on the board.
Moore stated that the PAB has been calling for the vacancies to be filled since November 2022. He stressed the rigorous “learning curve” of the job and amount of time required by newly minted members to learn the expectations of the board.
He added that board members participate in training which includes ride-alongs, observing 911 call centers and attendance to various seminars, talks and conventions regarding police training and safety.
Following Wilson’s confirmation, the board discussed chair and board member reports, as well as the chief of police report from Berkeley Police Department Captain Michael Durbin.
Durbin stated that BPD staffing numbers have continued to drop due to “anticipated” separations, but hopes recent efforts to interview and increase recruitment will be successful.
The board then discussed subcommittee reports and upcoming reorganization of the subcommittees due to the lack of board members, one of the many costs of PAB vacancies.
“(The number of vacancies) definitely slows down the work and impedes on the many different hats that we need to wear,” Moore said. “When we don’t have enough human resources to get that job done and you’re asking a board of four or five people to take on all of those responsibilities, it gets tough.”
Moore detailed goals to reassess standing subcommittees and potentially start appointing new subcommittees in future sessions, accounting for the current lack of personnel. Moore stressed the “cycle of burnout” that could occur due to the overexertion of current board members taking on the workload of a full board.
The meeting concluded with discussion of communication within the PAB and with external parties, commendations for BPD officers and the incorporation of animal-assisted intervention in police oversight work.