UC Police Review Board Holds Rare Public Meeting

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday May 05, 2006

The UC Police Review Board met for its first open meeting in two years Tuesday evening at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley. 

Addressing the board and members of the public, Robert MacCoun, board chair and professor of public policy and law, said that the meeting had been called to discuss the complaints and appeals filed in the 2005-2006 academic year. 

MacCoun said that this was the second consecutive academic year in which no formal citizen appeals had been received by the UC Police Review Board (PRB). There had also been no informal citizen contacts regarding concerns with the department. For the year 2005, the UC police department has listed five formal complaints and five work file memos, he said. 

“The department investigations did not sustain allegations in any of these incidents,” MacCoun said. “The Police Review Board did not receive any informal contacts from the citizens, and none of them formally appealed the department rulings.” 

The board is aware of two formal complaints and two informal complaints in the calendar year 2006 which were filed in four unrelated incidents in March. The department has not completed its investigations in these four cases.  

“There could be problems, citizens might have complaints but chose not to file them,” MacCoun said. “We cannot assume that since we are not receiving any complaints, there are no problems.” 

Danny Herrera, a member of the City of Berkeley’s Police Review Commission (PRC) emphasized the importance of better communication between the city’s PRC and the university’s PRB. 

James (Owen) Sizemore, an ASUC representative and an outgoing PRB member, brought up the recent issue of the arrest of disabled activist Danny McMullen at People’s Park by UC police on April 30. 

The incident, according to Sizemore’s account, began when McMullen pulled his motorized wheelchair with an attached trailer into the driveway of People’s Park and he was informed by two police officers that no vehicles or carts were allowed into the park.  

McMullen refused to remove his wheelchair as he was using the trailer cart to transport his two sons to the free meal being served by the Catholic Worker, Sizemore said. When he was ordered to show his identification, and refused to comply, one of the officers put his hand on McMullen.  

McMullen ordered this officer to remove his hand and the officer refused to do so. McMullen then got up and expectorated upon the aforementioned officer at which point he was forced to the ground and handcuffed after some struggle, according to Sizemore. 

The board did not discuss the matter further at the meeting. Sizemore emphasized the need for regular meetings to discuss such issues and also stressed the importance of raising awareness about the existence of the university PRB itself among the student community and the residents of Berkeley. 


PRB Chair Robert MacCoun can be contacted at 642-7518 or at maccoun@berkeley.eduu