Police Accountability Board


Watch Bobby Seale, Tony Platt, Keon Johnson and Stacey Ault April 4th speeches about the Police Accountability Board at the Berkeley City Club.

Bobby Seale Part 1
Bobby Seale Part 2
Tony Platt
Keon Johnson and Stacey Ault

Check out this February 4th article about our initiative in the Daily Cal.

We are supported by the National Police Accountability Project of the National Lawyers Guild which is Dedicated to Ending Law Enforcement and Detention Officer Misconduct.

Bobby Seale
and Tony Platt are central members of our campaign:

Bobby Seale is an activist working toward police accountability and social change. He co-founded and was Chairman of the Black Panther Party, and is the author of the autobiography "A Lonely Rage." He taught Black Studies at Temple University in Philadelphia, and has spoken at over 500 colleges to advise and inspire students in community organizing and social justice.

Tony Platt is a Distinguished Affiliated Scholar at the UC Berkeley Center for the Study of Law and Society. He is the author of 10 books and 150 essays and articles on race, inequality, and social justice. He is co-author of The Iron Fist & The Velvet Glove: An Analysis of the U. S. Police, and his upcoming book "Behind These Walls: Rethinking Crime and Punishment in the United States" will be released by St. Martin's Press in January 2019.

We are also endorsed by all of these people:

"I believe that an elected Police Accountability Board is a critically important element to necessary reform in your community and in our nation."

The Honorable Glenda Hatchett
For the family of Philando Castile

"Wishing you the best of luck with this important initiative."

Alison McCrary, SFCC, Esq.
Executive Director
National Police Accountability Project

"A victory in Berkeley might change the course of history."

Mike Davis, UC Riverside

"I am happy to support an initiative that places power over the police in the hands of democratically chosen members of the community."

Dan Siegel, civil rights lawyer

“Transparency and accountability are essential for justice to prevail.”

Lynn B. Cooper, Facilitator, Restorative Justice Program, San Quentin Prison

“I applaud this innovative attempt to contain police violence through democratic means.”

Micol Seigel, Charles Warren Center, Harvard University

“I wholeheartedly endorse the Police Accountability Board Initiative which will finally allow Berkeley's communities to have some real accountability over its police and policies."

Anne Weills, civil rights lawyer

"It is well past time to achieve real and meaningful accountability of those who police our cities. To do this requires new levels of transparency and community involvement and Berkeley could well offer us a model in this regard."

Heather Ann Thompson, Pulitzer-Prize winning historian, author of Blood in the Water: The Attica Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy

"The time for setting up procedures to insure police accountability to civilian oversight has never been more urgent."

Troy Duster, Chancellor's Professor Emeritus, Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, UC Berkeley

“I cannot imagine how lasting change could possibly come about absent measurement, visibility, and democracy. This Police Accountability Board promises movement in that direction.”

Erin M. Kerrison, School of Social Welfare, UC Berkeley

"In these times of resurgent police violence and institutional racism, legitimized by a presidential administration that uses 'law & order' as a proxy for white supremacy, community-based democratic control over law enforcement is as crucial as ever. I fully support the creation of an elected Police Accountability Board in Berkeley, CA."

Alessandro De Giorgi, Associate Professor of Justice Studies, San Jose State University

“The creation of a Police Accountability Board in Berkeley will restore and strengthen trust between police and community.”

Carino Gallo, professor of Criminology, Holy Names University


Milton Reynolds, Community educator

Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Chancellor’s Professor of Medical Anthropology Emerita, Department of Anthropology, UC Berkeley

Dan Berger, Associate Professor of Comparative Ethnic Studies, University of Washington, Bothell

Barbara Epstein, Professor Emerita, History of Consciousness Department, UC Santa Cruz

Michelle Brown, Dept. of Sociology, University of Tennessee

Armando Lara-Millán, Dept. of Sociology, UC Berkeley

Dan Haytin, professor emeritus, Sonoma State University

We believe that most officers and employees of the Berkeley Police Department are good people trying to do an honest, difficult job.

We fully support them in their efforts, and have no intention of making their job more difficult.

The people of Berkeley need and deserve a police department that keeps Berkeley a safe place to live, work and study. In which every officer and every employee obeys the law and treats us with respect and common decency.

To that end, on January 2, 2018 we filed a Charter amendment with the Berkeley City Clerk for inclusion in the November election.

This amendment will create an elected Police Accountability Board with full authority over the Berkeley Police Department. The community will control the police, and police officers will be held accountable for their actions.

We will have an effective police department that will set a new standard for policing in this country.

However, we aren't there yet. It is only by addressing the problems that we will arrive at the solutions...

The Problems

In December 2014, Berkeley police beat down peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters in a brutal and unprovoked attack. A lawsuit was filed against the City of Berkeley, resulting in a $125,000 settlement in February 2017 to the innocent victims.

That settlement was barely finalized when, in June, witnesses say Berkeley police beat up a peaceful group of local residents who attended a City Countil meeting. Another lawsuit against the City for that attack was recently filed by 7 innocent people who were injured by police.

In addition to the Berkeley Police Department sending innocent members of our community to the hospital, our Constitutional rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are the foundations of democracy and must be protected if we are to remain free.

Berkeley, the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement, should be a shining beacon of freedom for the future. We have a chance to improve the Berkeley Police Department, so we can trust any officer we might interact with.

This issue potentially affects everyone in this country. By leading the way, we can make it easier for other communities to improve their police departments.

A Victim of Police Violence

Philando Castile, see Daily News article

Across the United States, some of our police officers are out of control. They are beating and killing innocent people and getting away with it.

Philando Castile was 10 days away from his 33rd birthday when he was pulled over for "a broken tail light and because Castile looked like a suspect".

Forty seconds later, he was dying from five police bullets.

Castile had worked as a cook for the Saint Paul Public School District for 14 years. During that time, he had been pulled over by police 52 times.

Riding in the car were his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds and her four-year-old daughter, who were detained after police killed Castile. An audio/video recorder in the police car caught Reynolds' daughter telling her:

"Mom, please stop cussing and screaming 'cause I don't want you to get shooted."

In a now-familiar pattern, the officer who killed Castile was acquitted of all charges in a criminal trial, and Castile's girlfriend reached an $800,000 settlement in a civil trial.

Police Misconduct up Close

David Hebert, see David Hebert memorial

Some of us on this campaign know Megan Hutchinson personally. A police officer in Cincinnati shot Megan's innocent boyfriend to death right in front of her a few years ago.

The Homicide Investigation Report includes her description of David Hebert's death:

"I was just looking at him lying on the ground for so long and I remember repeating in my head over and over again, everything's going to be fine, everything's going to be fine, everything's going to be fine"

The officer who shot him, Andrew Mitchell, had previously been suspended for shooting an innocent high school student in the back of the head with a taser.

If there had been a Police Accountability Board in place there, Mitchell would have been thrown off the force and David Hebert would be alive today. Instead, he is dead and his killer was recently promoted to Lieutenant.

Officer Mitchell was suspended again in 2015 after he crashed his personal vehicle. One caller told the 911 dispatcher:

"This man in a gray van was flying around the corners. He is drunk as hell, ma'am. He is drunk as hell. He ran every stop sign. He was right in front of me."

Fellow officers Richard Sulfsted and Jason Cotterman were charged with "keeping Mitchell away from investigators and arranging for him to be taken to his home without being charged. Each faced two counts of dereliction of duty and four counts of obstructing justice"

All three were acquitted, and all were reinstated.

In 2015, the Hebert family reached a settlement with the City of Cincinnati in civil court.

Accountability and More

Glenda Hatchett and Valerie Castile, see Hatchett Firm statement

We can't expect the courts to hold police officers accountable. The US Supreme Court has essentially ruled that police officers have the right to kill anyone or anything they want, at any time and under any circumstances, as long as they can later say that they felt threatened.

Anyone who feels threatened by a woman in a bathrobe who called the police to report a sexual assault, an unarmed woman holding her baby or a dog that is wagging its tail shouldn't be a police officer. But that is only part of the problem.

When an innocent person is killed by a police officer, it often results from that officer making a decision to use a weapon. Or making a decision that leads to a weapons-related accident. And the decision process is a combination of training and adherence to that training.

So we can see three main factors contributing to the injury or death of an innocent person, and police accountability encompasses all of them:

Police Weapons

Police Training

Police Adherence to training

Holding police accountable for their actions is an important part of keeping the public safe.

In many police killings of innocent people, the officers who fired the fatal shots had previous behavior problems that were not appropriately resolved. If the behavior problems had been properly addressed when they first became apparent, a later tragedy might have been averted.

Accountability is also important because officers know that they will not get away with behavior of the kind that can lead to a tragedy. So they will have an incentive to follow the rules and act responsbily.

Punishing police officers who harm an innocent person will not undo the damage that has been done. It is much better for everyone involved to prevent such an incident from happening. But appropriate discipline can prevent future harm, either by changing the future behavior of the officer, or removing the officer from the police department.

The Solutions

The following are some ways the Police Accountability Board might solve the problems:

Selecting appropriate weapons that enable police to do their job safely and effectively.

Training police to do their job safely and effectively.

Ensuring that officers adhere to the training.

What We are Doing

Berkeley police use tear gas to break up protest, see Berkeleyside article

We have talked with a lot of people here, and we believe that Berkeley voters overwhelmingly want the Police Accountability Board.

We already have an elected School Board and an elected Rent Board. And we elect our trial judges. So it makes a lot of sense to have an elected Police Board too.

Over the next year, we will be informing as many Berkeley voters as we can reach about our chance to improve the Berkeley Police Department.

We are asking for help getting our message out to anyone who can vote in Berkeley or donate to the campaign. We can get control of the Berkeley Police Department, and we can change the bullets they use and their use-of-force policy to benefit the community.

Making it Happen

Elected officials and staff at City Hall

Our Congresswoman Barbara Lee is considering endorsing the Police Accountability Board. We recently met with her staff and they have expressed a committment to solving these problems.

And we've discussed police accountability with Berkeley City Council members Worthington and Harrison. They have been supportive of doing something to improve the situation.

We tried to discuss police accountability with Council member Droste, but she took money from the Berkeley Police Association PAC and refused to help us, even though many of us live in the district she is supposed to represent.

Form 497 from Berkeley's online campaign disclosure webpage

Berkeley police put a lot of effort into buying the City Council. Yet another reason for the community to be concerned about police behavior.

Berkeley Police Officers can well afford their lobbying activities. Many of them are making over $200,000 a year, with some making nearly $350,000.

In spite of this, the Berkeley Police Association claims that Berkeley is treating officers unfairly. Their recent statement about our elected City Council representatives sums up their attitude:

"If they cannot support our Berkeley police officers, we cannot support them!"

Total 2016 compensation from the City of Berkeley to Berkeley Police Association officers:

President: $252,454.00

Vice President: $228,275.00

Administrative Vice President: $213,296.00

Secretary: $216,617.00

Treasurer: $259,946.00

Sergeant at Arms: $270,218.00

Do we really want a bunch of millionaires driving around Berkeley with guns and badges and beating up innocent members of the community with impunity? Openly refusing to support the officials we elect to manage them?

The Police Accountability Board will have no reason to fear threats from our generously-paid police officers. The board will be "fully and exclusively responsible for the supervision and control of the Berkeley Police Department" and will have

"full and exclusive powers and duties to appoint, discipline or remove all officers and employees of the Berkeley Police Department".

Innocent members of the community will no longer need to fear threats from Berkeley police officers either.

We want to support our police to the greatest extent possible. Good cops have nothing to fear from the Police Accountability Board. But police must be accountable to the community or they become just a gang with medical, dental, vision and retirement benefits.

In addition to dealing with bad cops, the Police Accountability Board can be a step toward greater freedom for the people of this country. If the police work for us, then the government will have to work for us too.

News Headlines

We Have a Wonderful Opportunity to Create the Future

The good life, see Collective Evolution article