Policing in the Shadows 

Over the years, the UC Berkeley Police Department has escaped scrutiny, despite evidence of racial profiling, biased policing, and a lack of oversight.

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Former PRB Chair Charles Weisselberg, a Berkeley law school professor, said the racial stop data presented by UCPD to the oversight body was inconclusive. "Our only conclusion from the summary data was that we could not tell what, if anything, was going on," he said in an email to the Express. UCPD was to work with a statistician to conduct a more detailed analysis, examining stops and outcomes by race, gender, and possibly compare to demographics and beats and shifts, he said. Columbia law school professor Justin McCrary, then a law professor and faculty director of the Social Sciences Data Laboratory at Cal, was the statistician connected with UCPD. McCrary did not respond to emails seeking comment. It's unclear if any further analysis occurred.

At its 2016 public meeting, only one member of the public and a Daily Cal reporter attended. The PRB's report stated, "We had an open discussion with the [c]hief, [b]oard, and reporter about some future steps with the [d]epartment, including how to monitor for racial trends in traffic stop data." The Daily Cal reported in 2016 that "no racial trends were found."

According to traffic stop data, UCPD stopped a total of 2,197 vehicles in 2014. That year, the Express analysis found, Black and Latinx motorists were most likely to be stopped and warned, while Asian-American drivers were twice as likely to receive warnings and citations as white drivers. Of the eight arrests during traffic stops that year, half were Black.

Last spring, the undergraduate student government, ASUC, adopted two resolutions to reform the UCPD Police Review Board and create an all-student review commission. The Daily Cal reported that the bill sponsor expressed concern of the "hypermilitarization" of police. In 2006, UCPD received a half-dozen M16 rifles as part of the Pentagon's 1033 military surplus weapons program. In August 2017, President Trump renewed the program, two years after President Obama curtailed it in response to the protests sparked by the shooting death of Michael Brown by Ferguson, MO police.

Last fall, UCPD also spent nearly $4 million for "Free Speech Week" protests, the campus newspaper also reported.

"This was a difficult interim year," said current PRB Chair Jonathan Simon, a law professor considered an expert on criminal justice issues. The PRB has not published a report this year. "Essentially, we had nothing to report," Simon said, as no appeals had been filed. Simon was unaware of the Feb. 1 incident involving Cole. Chancellor Christ appointed Simon as PRB chair on Feb. 15, he said. On Aug. 29, the PRB held its first meeting since 2016. No members of the public attended the annual meeting, according to Simon. The PRB's website also did not list the date, time, or location of the meeting. According to Simon, a new PRB meeting coordinator joined the vice chancellor's staff during the summer.

Still, Simon, is optimistic. Despite UC budget constraints and UCPD not being "entirely forthcoming with what data they have," Simon hopes the new PRB can leverage campus resources to study campus policing data to understand if and to what extent racially biased policing is taking place. "It's an important enough question to do more. We are a university. We have resources," Simon said. He noted that policing expert Nikki Jones, associate professor of African American Studies, is a faculty representative on the PRB.

Simon added that pedestrian stop data should also be made public, although the data won't indicate what happened in each interaction and it may also be necessary to review police reports to understand what is taking place during police-civilian encounters. He also hopes to receive input from the public on improving UCPD policies and said he'd consider hosting another meeting to hear from the public.

AFSCME workers throughout California held a three-day strike from Oct. 22 to Oct. 25 to protest racial and gender pay inequality and UC job outsourcing. Missing from the frontlines of the picket lines in Berkeley, however, was David Cole.

Union representatives said Cole did not want to risk being hurt again and stayed home. As of October, Cole was still out on leave, according to colleagues at Crossroads Dining Hall.

Following protests and appeals to UC Berkeley administration and the Alameda County District Attorney's office, Cole will not be prosecuted.


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