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Related Categories: California | Police State & Prisons
Court Decisison Devastates Community Oversight: Copwatch Calls for Community Input!
by Berkeley Copwatch
Tuesday Feb 13th, 2007 1:15 PM
On February 9, Judge Smith's ruling against the City of Berkeley's Police Review Commission (PRC), in a lawsuit filed by the Berkeley Police Association (BPA), essentially banned open hearings about police officers and blocked public access to records of police misconduct. The community must come together and take action against this blow to public safety and police accountability! Join Berkeley Copwatch in creating strategies for countering police repression. Defend the community's right to public police oversight! Demand community safety be upheld!
On February 9, Judge Smith's ruling against the City
of Berkeley's Police Review Commission (PRC), in a
lawsuit filed by the Berkeley Police Association
(BPA), essentially banned open hearings about police
officers and blocked public access to records of
police misconduct. It is essential for the community
to come together and take action against this blow to
public safety and police accountability.

"The BPA's lawsuit, supported by Judge Smith's
ruling, is an assault on the community of Berkeley,"
says Berkeley Copwatch member Jake Gelender. The
ruling undermines the will of the citizens of Berkeley
who, in creating the Police Review Commission in 1973,
made clear their demand for public civilian oversight
of their police force. With cities such as San
Francisco and Oakland waiting for the lawsuit's
findings. Smith's ruling affects not only the citizens
of Berkeley, but of neighboring California
communities.

The right of the people to know what their police are
doing is fundamental to democracy! Prioritizing police
secrecy over community safety disempowers the citizens
of Berkeley and facilitates police misconduct and
abuse. As declared by Berkeley Police Chief
Hambleton, the police department already ignored
allegations of abuse confirmed by the Police Review
Commission; such inaction allows violent officers to
continue patrolling our streets. If misconduct is
kept secret, we can only expect more abuse.

"When police misconduct, abuse and disciplinary
actions are made secret, why is it declared a victory
for the Berkeley Police?" asks Alex Fischer, Berkeley
Copwatch member. "If police are seeking to destroy
good faith from the community they are sworn to
protect and serve, then perhaps a victory has
occurred. But if the police are to maintain
relationships based on trust, accountability and
transparency of action, they lost the case a long time
ago."

In a time of increased government surveillance,
expanded police power, the legitimation of torture and
denial of habeas corpus, this case is one of many
attacks on civil liberties we face today. The people
of Berkeley and California must oppose these dangerous
trends on the local, state and national levels!

Berkeley Copwatch demands that the city of Berkeley
fight this ruling and appeal Smith's decision. It has
been the consistent position of Berkeley Copwatch that
the PRC must receive independent council due to City
Attorney Manuela Albuquerque's conflict of interest in
this case as she is also responsible for representing
the police department.

Community input is needed to hold police accountable!
The public is invited to join Berkeley Copwatch in
creating strategies for countering police repression.
Support open PRC hearings! Defend the community's
right to public police oversight! Demand community
safety be upheld!

Monday, February 19th @ 8pm
Grassroots House, 2022 Blake St, Berkeley

Contact: Berkeley Copwatch: berkeleycopwatch [at] yahoo.com
or (510) 548-0425
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