By: Gideon Rubin
BERKELEY, CA — The union representing Berkeley's police officers has filed a complaint with a state agency alleging city officials repeatedly violated the state's Brown Act and state labor law, attorneys representing the officers said in a statement.
The Berkeley Police Association (BPA) complaint alleges the city and its Police Accountability Board (PAB) "acted contrary to the notification and open meeting rules of the Brown Act and improperly imposed changes to working conditions without conferring with the BPA," attorneys representing the BPA said in a statement.
Rains Lucia Stern St. Phalle & Silver, which specializing in representation of law enforcement officers, filed the complaint on behalf of the BPA with the state's Public Employee Relations Board (PERB), the firm said in a statement.
A city spokesperson did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
"It's more than ironic that in pursuit of law enforcement 'reform,' the city and the members of the Police Accountability Board have themselves repeatedly violated the law. The city must be stopped from continuing to allow the Police Accountability Board to engage in unlawful behavior," BPA President Sgt. Darren Kacalek said in a statement.
The filing follows unsuccessful attempts to meet and confer in good faith with the city over changes the PAB is seeking in the process for investigations and hearings into alleged misconduct by police officers, the law firm said.
The BPA alleges the City Council approved "its own set of rules without providing sufficient advance notice to the BPA or conferring with it, as required by the Meyers Milias Brown Act," BPA attorneys said in a statement.
"The city, through its unaccountable Police Accountability Board, is just rewriting entire sections of the city's police oversight rules enacted by the voters, which it simply cannot do," BPA attorney Rocky Lucia said in a statement.
The BPA attorneys said the PAB acknowledged publicly viewing and discussing evidence outside of noticed hearings, which would be a Brown Act violation.
"They even acknowledged they engaged in such activity after being warned by their own staff that the action might violate the Brown Act, yet continued their improper action," BPA attorneys said in a statement.
The complaint asks the PERB to void the changes imposed by the city, as well as any actions the PAB has taken in disciplinary cases.
"The BPA supports police accountability and has tried to work with the city and the PAB to reach an agreement on the rules that will be fair and protect the rights of the officers as well as the public," Lucia said in a statement.
"But these continued actions by the city that are contrary to state law are an extremely serious matter. Effective and sustainable police oversight only works if it done within the confines of the law. We cannot sit by and allow the city to commit clear violations of the law and the collective bargaining rights of the union and its members, nor can we allow a Police Accountability Board to continue to operate illegally and with no accountability."