The first official class is an introduction to Community-Based Police Accountability and an overview of the course. The second class is a Know-Your-Rights Training. Students will learn about police encounters and lawful procedures/responses and what would constitute violations of those laws or procedures. Students will also receive an in-depth training on copwatching procedure and safety from the founder of Berkeley Copwatch. Through a combination of presentations by activists in the alternative justice movement as well as direct field monitoring of police, we will study and discuss many of the harsh realities of modern policing, as well as the historical origins of how things arrived at the state they are in today. Most of the topics we discuss use local case studies involving the Berkeley Police Department & UCPD. Topics include militarization, mental health, police repression of activist movements and current events related to police reform efforts and policing. Students will also be trained in basic criminal procedure, power analysis, techniques for observing police activity and avenues for reporting abuses.
Berkeley Copwatch has been encouraging and educating community members to exercise their right-to-watch the police since 1990. Due to repeated instances of police violence being caught on film, the right-to-watch has been in the media spotlight. Even with video evidence, police continue to act with impunity. The DeCal is meant to provide community members with the knowledge and resources to participate in the fight against police brutality.
The components of the class assignments consist of five reflections and a group project. For the project, students will identify a research question for inquiry to pursue throughout the semester. This question should also be structured so that there is an opportunity to create a California Public Records Act (CPRA) request that is part of the research process. Students will be required to present research on a topic of their interest and make a final presentation in groups.
Attendance is a vital component of the class and will be taken at the beginning of each class. Students may not have more than two unexcused absences in order to pass. They are expected to notify facilitators via email if needed in order to excuse an absence. Students should come to class having read the assigned reading and prepared to ask questions and discuss related topics.