City of Berkeley seeks source of leaked confidential info

City Manager Christine Daniel. March 5, 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Berkeley city manager Christine Daniel said the city is looking into how a recent leak of confidential documents happened, and how to stop it in the future. Photo: Emilie Raguso

The city of Berkeley is on the hunt to determine who released private police personnel documents related to a confidential investigation — into an in-custody death involving local officers last year — to UC Berkeley’s Daily Californian newspaper.

Thursday evening, Berkeley city manager Christine Daniel notified the mayor and council members about the leak, which she described to them via email as “an unfortunate and concerning event that occurred regarding confidential police personnel information.”

Daniel wrote that the Daily Cal had told the city it had gotten “confidential personnel-specific findings” from the Police Review Commission’s inquest into the in-custody death of Kayla Moore last year. (Moore’s family has filed a lawsuit against the city over that fatality.)

According to a letter from an attorney representing the Berkeley Police Association (BPA) — the union for local officers — the release of that information is a criminal offense. Attorney Harry Stern, of Rains Lucia Stern, wrote also that the Police Review Commission (PRC) could be subject to civil liability “for this invasion of privacy and defamation.” Stern said the city must take immediate action to address the leak: launch a criminal investigation to identify the source; remove the “offending commissioner” from the panel; and suspend Police Review Commission activity until the source is found.

He said police would no longer participate in the commission’s inquiries, one of which had been scheduled for Friday, “until the City can assure the BPA that strong measures have been put in effect to protect the confidentiality of their personnel information.”

Stern wrote that, in light of the pending lawsuit by Moore’s family, the leak was “particularly egregious” and has the potential to cause “unwarranted prejudice against the named officers.”

He said, too, that “it is clear that at least one commissioner has an agenda that evidences bias against the accused officers,” and said the leak “undermines the credibility of the PRC.”

In her written remarks to city officials Thursday evening, city manager Christine Daniel did not identify the source of the leak as a commissioner, or indicate who might have been responsible. It was unknown Friday exactly how many people would have had access to the documents that were shared. Berkeleyside has requested additional information from the city manager but had not heard back as of publication time.

The Police Review Commission has been looking into Moore’s death since last year. Part of that process has included extensive public testimony from community members and Moore’s family who said they were concerned about police actions, and questioned whether the Berkeley Police Department deals appropriately with mental health calls. (The Police Department has said it is well trained in those matters and has a long history of working closely with mental health providers to ensure a high standard of service when dealing with people in mental health crisis.)

Though the public has had the chance to speak out to the commission about their concerns previously, the details of the inquiry — including interviews with officers and findings related to whether the commission believes officers acted appropriately — are protected by confidentiality laws.

Daniel said in her letter to city officials that she is “very concerned by this event and want to assure you that we will be looking into how this unauthorized release occurred, and how to prevent any similar occurrences in the future.”

She also wrote that she had issued the following to the Daily Cal in response to its request for a statement on the documents: “We cannot comment on the substance. The information you have been provided includes confidential personnel records protected by Penal Code Section 832.7. You have no authorization to possess the documents or the information. Whomever provided you with the information is in violation of City policy and state law. The City will look into how this information was improperly released.”

She also decried the leak itself, and said she would not require Berkeley Police officers to participate in the Police Review Commission’s activities under the circumstances. Daniel wrote that she had asked the commission to postpone a board of inquiry scheduled for Friday.

“The breach of confidentiality creates an atmosphere that generates a lack of confidence on the part of the officers that their confidential personnel information will be treated properly. Until the City has had an adequate opportunity to ensure that the required confidentiality will be maintained, I will not direct officers to participate,” she wrote.

Sarah Burns, editor-in-chief and president of the Daily Cal, said the news organization is planning to publish its report on the documents Monday. She said the city had made it clear it did not believe the Daily Cal should have or release the documents but that, otherwise, the city’s reaction had not been “out of proportion.”

Police Review Commissioner George Perezvelez said Friday afternoon that he had not been aware of the breach, but that he was very concerned by it, and planned to seek more information from city staff.

“I don’t know how it will pan out, but the trust is very important in order for the Police Review Commission to be effective. I think this is very troublesome,” he said. “It erodes the trust for all the parties: on behalf of the citizens, the city and police officers. When that is compromised, the result is extremely negative.”

Related:
Berkeley slapped with lawsuit over Kayla Moore’s death (02.14.14)
Vigil, rally mark anniversary of in-custody death (02.12.14)

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  • bgal4

    Dismantle the PRC, create an auditor form of police oversight, which is affordable, appropriate and apolitical.

  • http://www.caviarcommunism.com/ West Bezerkeley

    The PRC is a dinosaur that had its teeth removed by state law. There’s no reason for it to continue to exist. That said, Berkeley does love its commissions, so I’m not naive enough to believe any city commission will be eliminated. However, whoever is responsible for the leak should be prosecuted.

  • Chris

    Agreed! That and the Peace and Justice commission are such wastes of time, energy and money.

  • John Freeman

    From the facts presented I see no reason to believe PRC leaked the documents. Indeed, the existence of the leak seems so far to further the aims of PRC opponents.

    Unless the city manager is holding back yet more information from the public, this bit is particularly galling:

    She [….] said she would not require
    Berkeley Police officers to participate in the Police Review
    Commission’s activities under the circumstances. Daniel wrote that she
    had asked the commission to postpone a board of inquiry scheduled for
    Friday.

  • guest

    From the facts presented I see no reason to believe PRC leaked the documents.

    On the other hand, from the facts presented I see no reason to believe the PRC didn’t leak the documents.

    Just because the leak hasn’t worked out the way they wanted it to doesn’t mean someone on the commission isn’t responsible for the leak.

  • bgal4

    If the tax payers knew how much money is wasted with no gain that could not be accomplished with the auditor form of police oversight then they just might revisited the legislation authorizing the PRC.

    The problem is chicken shi… politicians, many of the current council members KNOW the citizen oversight is a huge waste of precious resources.

  • guest

    PRC leak in this case? Not surprising.

  • justiceplease

    Truth and transparency = prejudice? Then I guess the thin blue line of cover up = perfect justice.

    Lawsuits aren’t inherently bad: sometimes they are a signal that someone did something wrong and should make up for that wrongdoing. Trust is not enabled by protecting people from lawsuits.

    If that leaker knew the risk he/she was undertaking, I admire their courage. And if their life is ruined for it, as what happens to most whistleblowers and leakers, I offer my compassion and feel shame for belonging to a society that seems driven to punish the people who act for their benefit.

  • guest

    …if their life is ruined for it…

    One can only hope.

  • Andrea Prichett

    It will be tragicomedy to watch how vigorously the police and city pursue this issues and bring the leaker to “justice”. How much effort did they put into bringing the cops who killed Kayla Moore to justice? What a joke. And the City Manager is thrilled to be able to put a stake in the heart of the PRC. She has been minimizing it for her entire tenure. Now is her chance to end it. However, she will be in violation of the ordinance which the people of Berkeley voted into existence in 1973 and she doesn’t have unilateral authority to void the will of the people. By taking this action, she may well expose the city to other types of litigation.

  • Rozalina Gutman

    I wholeheartedly agree

  • Rozalina Gutman

    This is the most cynical, heartless and unjust attempt of ms. Daniel to shift the attention of the public and the Court from the very essence of the matter – HER EARLIER BLUNT COVER UP OF A MURDER OF AN INNOCENT BERKELEY RESIDENT Kayla Moore, thanks to the stalled for over a year release of public records. And, the fact of using the form of offence and intimidation is particularly telling, especially in conjunction with the fact of appointing THE FATHER (no less!) OF THE MURDERER-OFFICER to serve as the commissioner of Police Review Commission. (wow, how about the most elemental adherence to the conflict of interest policy?) Berkeley community will not be intimidated neither by the threats, nor by the ludicrous use of legal loopholes. The lawyer by trade, Ms. Daniel had just testified about her complete misfit to the position of a public servant, due to the open display of her lacking capacity to empathy to the pain and suffering of the victim’s family and to the increasing community outcry. MAKE NO MISTAKE: Berkeley community is unwilling to tolerate such unfitting persona to our community of compassionate and intelligent people, who won’t let go of the fundamental principles of justice. Our demands for the restoration of justice in the City of Berkeley will only increase in the face of such outrageous intimidation! We call for everyone’s PROACTIVE KINDNESS and the engagement into supporting our demands for JUSTICE TO KAYLA MOORE! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OBLRt6XgpM

  • Rozalina Gutman

    LONG OVERDUE, INDEED! Let’s roll up our sleeves and begin to work on this important proposal.

  • Rozalina Gutman

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OBLRt6XgpM NOTE, please: THIS IS YET ANOTHER ATTEMPT TO JUSTIFY THE DELAY OF PUBLIC ACCESS TO THE PUBLIC RECORDS! Wow… there is no single mention of SYMPATHY to the victims of the heartlessly lacking justice – to the family of the victim of murdered Kayla Moore. It is the time for the pro-active kindness in our city of Berkeley to prevail the outrage of indiscriminately cruel and senseless bureaucratic war on Berkeley residents, led by the lacking compassion and self-serving City Manager Daniel (lawyer-by-trade and very effective legal loophole facilitator). ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! Over a year of withholding public rec’s re. a murder, committed by the City employees, by the PEACE officers?! This is a blunt violation of the most elemental justice principles and civil rights! Not on the watch of Berkeley taxpayers! J U S T I C E FOR KAYLA MOORE!

  • CopWatchWatch

    Please take your anti-police crazy somewhere else. There are so many places that have police departments that are far less professional than Berkeley’s. Surely your passions could be profitably directed at them? Because bashing BPD is a huge waste of time, as is the PRC.

  • Andrea Prichett

    Perhaps you would care to address some of the issues raised? The questions are worthwhile and need to be asked. It not “crazy” to want accountability.

  • guest

    “murdered Kayla Moore”

    Do you know the definition of “murder”? It involves the deliberate and premeditated killing of someone.

    No one in their right mind has said that the police murdered Moore. Some people have said the the police are not properly trained to deal with people in psychiatric crisis, so they inadvertently caused Moore’s death. Others dispute this and say the police acted properly.

    You should think for at least a second before accusing someone of murder.

  • CopWatchWatch

    I re-read your post. It’s crazy in both content and tone. There are no worthwhile questions raised. I demand accountability for you and your CopWatch cronies.

    BPD is a professional force. Kayla Moore was a morbidly obese drug addict.

  • Name

    Read the coroner’s report. Moore died from complications related to gross obesity and mixing illegal drugs.

  • guest

    SHE DIED BECAUSE OF HER MORBID OBESITY AND DRUG USE.

    She died because, after getting high as hell and mixing medications and drugs that can kill someone, she threatened to kill someone and then fought with the police when they tried to take her into custody, leading to overexertion which killed her because of her morbid obesity.

    SHE WASN’T MURDERED, SHE DIED BECAUSE OF HER OWN ACTIONS.

  • guest

    Good luck with that. One thing we can be sure of is that “citizen groups” operate without ANY accountability. They can lie their asses off without repercussion because, apparently, ideological fanatics get a free pass in Berkeley.

  • CopWatchWatch

    S/he ate and drugged herself to death. The police didn’t make her fat or drug addled. She did that to herself.

  • shutter

    Shorter Daniels: transparency for you but not for us. We’re special.