Community members have two chances over the next few days to weigh in about the type of candidate they hope will oversee police oversight efforts in Berkeley going forward.
Learn more about the PAB on the city website
On Thursday night, Jan. 27, there’s a “Community Conversation” at 6:30 p.m. on Zoom about the upcoming hiring process for the job. In addition, through Jan. 31, there’s an open survey seeking input about the “qualifications and attributes” community members would like to see in the person who will serve as the permanent director of Berkeley’s Police Accountability Board (PAB).
Berkeley voters approved the creation of the PAB in November 2020 with Measure II. The new board replaced the city’s Police Review Commission with the goal of giving those charged with police oversight efforts in Berkeley more independence and broader powers for misconduct investigations and other complaints. Measure II also created the new role of PAB director, a position that — like the board itself — also comes with more authority and responsibility.
Since it began to meet last year, Katherine Lee, the longtime city staffer and attorney who served as Berkeley’s main staff contact for the PRC, has worked as the PAB’s interim director. But that has always been a temporary solution until a permanent director is chosen.
To that end, the Berkeley City Council hired The Byers Group to conduct a national executive search for candidates.
Its apparent outreach efforts have been limited, however, and the process appears to still be in the very early stages. A PAB subcommittee focused on the director search met just twice last year, in November and December. Its agendas were brief and detailed agenda packets were not produced.
The only public announcement about Thursday’s meeting that Berkeleyside could find was in Mayor Jesse Arreguín’s email newsletter on Wednesday evening. The item alerted the public to the chance to provide input this week through the community meeting and survey.
According to a brief description in the newsletter, “The Byers Group will use this input to guide its recruitment strategy, enhance the Director’s job description, and define core competencies to identify, screen and evaluate candidates.”
All responses will be kept confidential, according to the statement. The survey is expected to take 10 minutes to complete.
The city said its staff did not announce the meeting and survey due to the structure determined by the voters for the new PAB itself.
“In its mandate,” city staff said in a brief email statement, “the PAB is explicitly established as an independent body separate from the City Manager and reports to the City Council, so communication on the process is through Mayor and Council.”
As of publication time, only the mayor’s office had announced Thursday night’s meeting with The Byers Group.
An entirely separate process focused on hiring a new police chief for Berkeley is also underway, and is running significantly behind schedule. The City Council had been scheduled to finalize the contract for that work in November, but its vote on the subject was postponed. Once that endeavor kicks off, the selection of final police chief candidates is projected to take up to another six months.
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