Reader Poll: What next after Berkeley Police Chief storm?

Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meeham. Photo: Tracey Taylor

The revelation this week that Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan had sanctioned sending 10 officers to Oakland to “live track” his son’s stolen iPhone in January prompted international media interest and an impassioned response from the Berkeley community.

More than 320 Berkeleyside comments offered an insight into how the incident was viewed. The fact that no report was filed for the investigation, and that the Chief was also under scrutiny for his decision in March to send an officer to a reporter’s house in the middle of the night (read about that here), lent the episode added complexity.

When Chief Meehan spoke to Berkeleyside on Wednesday, he stressed that the search for his son’s iPhone did not constitute preferential treatment, and that such a response would have been initiated “for anybody in the city.” It doesn’t appear that Meehan believes this is something he should apologize for, nor that it is a resignation issue. Interim City Manager Christine Daniel chose not to comment.

How do the Chief and the police department move on from this? Has it damaged the Berkeley police department’s reputation? What steps should be taken next?

Answer our poll so that we can take the temperature, albeit non-scientifically, of how the community is feeling now. Check the box of each statement with which you agree. Because we are bound to have missed some questions or issues you would like to address, feel free to elaborate in the Comments. We will keep the Poll open until midnight on Monday May 28 and publish the results on May 29.

What is your view of Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan and the police department?

  • The iPhone and Doug Oakley incidents have damaged the reputation of the Police Chief. (60%, 182 Votes)
  • Both the iPhone and Doug Oakley incidents were lapses in judgment that are part of a pattern of poor decision-making from the Chief. (50%, 152 Votes)
  • Chief Meehan should release the findings of the independent report that was made into the Doug Oakley incident. (44%, 133 Votes)
  • The iPhone and Doug Oakley incidents have damaged the reputation of the Berkeley Police Department. (38%, 115 Votes)
  • Chief Meehan should have apologized for the iPhone incident. (26%, 78 Votes)
  • I do not trust the Berkeley police as much as I did before these two incidents were revealed. (25%, 76 Votes)
  • I trust the Berkeley police as much as I did before these two incidents were revealed. (23%, 68 Votes)
  • Both the iPhone and Doug Oakley incidents were lapses in judgment but otherwise the Chief is doing a good job. (17%, 52 Votes)
  • I am satisfied with Chief Meehan's explanation of the iPhone incident. (14%, 43 Votes)
  • There is a clear way for the Police Chief to move on from these incidents (please elaborate in the Comments). (5%, 14 Votes)

Total Voters: 301

Loading ... Loading ...

Berkeley police chief: “Not some kind of preferential treatment” [05.23.12]
Hunt for police chief’s son’s iPhone cost $740 in overtime [05.22.12]
Berkeley police chief sent 10 officers on hunt for son’s iPhone [05.21.12]
Berkeley will spend up to $50K after police chief blunder [05.18.12]
Berkeley City orders investigation into police chief [03.16.12]
Questions remain about Berkeley police chief’s actions [03.11.12]
At 12:45 am police chief demands reporter make changes [03.10.12]

Want to be up to speed with what’s going on in Berkeley?  Click here to subscribe to Berkeleyside’s new-look Daily Briefing.

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  • Bruce Love

     In Subsequent Days

    On February 20, two days after the murder, Berkeleyside reported that Berkeley Police Department said:

    At that time, available Patrol teams were being reconfigured in order to monitor a protest which was to come into Berkeley from Oakland in the next hour. Only criminal, in-progress emergency calls were to be dispatched, due to the reduction in officers available to handle calls for service.

    On February 21, the department issued a statement confirming that the initial call was not dispatched when it arrived, nor 15 minutes later, because of the protest preparations.

    On that day, Chief Meehan acknowledged that his judgement was being questioned.  As quoted on Berkeleyside, he said:

    We are carefully reviewing the circumstances of this case in depth to ensure everything possible was done to properly respond to this tragic event.

    That statement by Meehan was in an “update” to the story published that day, not in the original story.  The update was published only hours after the original story.   

    To me, this established that:

    1) The department’s position was that the protest preparations had delayed responding to the initial call.

    2) The chief was concerned as to whether this implied he had done something wrong.

    2) The chief was anxious to “correct” press reports very quickly.

    On February 22, Berkeleyside wrote:

    In a statement issued Tuesday (published on Berkeleyside), BPD said only criminal, in-progress emergency calls were to be dispatched that night, due to the reduction in officers available to handle calls for service. “Concerns about the potential for violence associated with the march resulted in plans to allocate officers to monitor the march,” they said.

    The report also explained Susan Wengraf’s concerns about the police’s deliberate reduction of service that night.

    For me, that furthered questions about the chief’s judgement.   The “F..k the Police” marchers had been associated with minor vandalism and hassle, but they had been doing this cat and mouse provocation with Oakland police for weeks with no significant violence.   Moreover, the march would be walking up Telegraph after leaving Frank Ogawa plaza:  BPD would have more than an hour’s notice of their arrival.   I could not then (and still can’t) fathom how that justified the reduction in service in Berkeley.   This is the same reduction in service that might have delayed response to Mr. Cukor’s first call — about a crazy trespasser who wanted to come in —  by more than 15 minutes.

  • Bruce Love

     The Community Meeting

    On February 29, Berkeleyside reported that Councilmember Wengraf had called a community meeting about the incident, to take place on March 8th.   Councilmember Capitelli would “co-host”.  

    On Friday March 2, Berkeleyside reported on an interview conducted the day before:

    But media reports have created the inaccurate impression that police ignored an emergency call from Cukor because they were too busy monitoring an Occupy march.

    That was the message that Chief Meehan and some of his top staff delivered to Berkeleyside on Thursday afternoon in a wide-ranging interview that lasted more than an hour.

    To me, that’s a remarkable statement.  Berkeleyside and other outlets had published direct quotes from the department that very much say police did not dispatch Mr. Cukor’s call because they were busy preparing for the Occupy March.   Suddenly, the chief had changed his story.

    During this meeting, Chief Meehan had some interesting things to say.  Quoting Berkeleyside, with emphasis added:

    “We have done a lot of “what if-ing,” said Chief Meehan. “This has hit hard. A number of officers are friends with the children. It has been very difficult.”

    The review included analyzing the way the two Feb. 18 calls from the Cukor household were handled and comparing their dispatch and prioritization with the protocols of the Oakland Police Department, the San Francisco Police Department, the California Highway Patrol, and other agencies.

    We found we’re not inconsistent with what the police world is doing,” said Chief Meehan.

    To me, this is the first indication that the chief was now in CYA mode, speaking misleadingly.   The question the chief faced was whether his judgment was sound to reduce service because of the protest, and whether or not that might have made the difference to Mr. Cukor.  The answer that “We found we’re not inconsistent with what the police world is doing,” — whatever the heck that even means — doesn’t speak to the issue at hand.

    On March 9, Berkeleyside reported on the community meeting.

    Chief Meehan apparently felt compelled to emphasize the threat of the “F..k the Police” crowd:

    Meehan said reports that the police were blaming the Occupy march for their decision not to respond to the first call from the Cukor household were false. And, later, he said BPD had been told that protesters might try to “occupy” the Berkeley Police station on the night of Feb. 18.

    I was personally quite shocked when I read that.

    There are two problems.  First, the department certainly did blame the Occupy march.   Look earlier in the time-line.  That is precisely what they did.  Second, this expressed fear that the marchers might “occupy” the police station is bull.

    As to “blaming Occupy”: Why would the chief first blame the Occupy march but then later deny blaming the Occupy march if not to discourage scrutiny of his decision to reduce service that night?

    As to the threatened “occupation” of police headquarters:   I am not privy to all that goes on in “F..k the Police” but I was paying attention to it at the time and listening to some people more closely involved.   Meehan’s claim about a planned occupation of BPD HQ seemed (and seems) clueless.   The march had an announced agenda that night (to meet up with Occupy Cal regarding protests on campus).   The marchers never did anything like the kind of take-over attempt Meehan seemed to indicate.   Nobody I know on the Occupy side and no public source I can find gives any support at all to Meehan’s notion here.   He seems to have made it up out of whole cloth.

    In this context, mention of an occupation of HQ seemed like puffery to retrospectively justify reducing service the night of the murder of Mr. Cukor.

    Finally, Meehan made the now infamous apology for letting anyone ever doubt him:

    Chief Meehan stressed that the police department had been remiss in not releasing information quickly, which had led to it “getting behind the media curve”.

    To me, this means that Meehan felt he had evaded any serious scrutiny of his judgment the night of the murder.   That question had gotten lost in the noise.   And now he was “apologizing” for not preventing the press from raising the question in the first place.

  • Bruce Love

    The Oakley Incident

    Hours after the community meeting Oakland Tribune reporter Doug Oakley published, on-line, a story that errantly indicated the chief had apologized for the delayed response the night of the murder of Mr. Cukor.    Oakley was wrong.  The chief had apologized for not “getting out in front” of the reporters who’d called the chief’s judgment into question.

    Oakley’s article was filed around 11PM and shortly thereafter placed on-line, according to Berkeleyide’s report of March 10.

    Back in Berkeley, the chief was still in his office as the hour approached midnight and, apparently attending to the news for mention of himself.   He saw Oakley’s story.

    Meehan sent email and called Oakley.   When this did not produce immediate results, he contacted Sgt. Kusmiss and ordered her to visit Oakley at home.  She did, apologetically, leading to the explosive stories of the next day.

    Later we would learn that Meehan denied any recollection or knowledge of how Kusmiss obtained Oakley’s address — and that the chief had participated in the process of retrieving the address from police records.

    To me, the chief’s credibility with the public had been sacrificed.   His respect for the lawful boundaries of his position had been called into serious question.

  • Rosie


  • Berkleley_kid

    this is one of the many things that meehan has done wrong so now a lot of cops must hate him so he should resign now before things get worse I’m ten and even I know this is wrong

  • Jonathon_P

    What an excellent point! Let’s get back to basics and look at this incident from the eyes of a child, If a ten year child knows that what the Meehan did is wrong, we should ask ourselves what really lies behind all this pontification?  Ask your inner child, not all the what-if questions, but the REAL question: Was what Meehan did wrong?  Inner child or outer child, there is only one right answer….

  • ie

    Berkeley deserves a Police Chief who exhibits better judgment.  Our city is small, pays high salaries to administrators and this man’s actions are not up to par.  We could perhaps overlook the misjudgment of the overreaction to the murder/publicity, however the cell phone action is unforgivable…

  • With respect to opposing feelings, to say that Kumiss was just following orders is a cop-out. To liberally borrow from a story on NPR this morning on a trial of a priest —

    Marci Hamilton, a professor at Cardozo Law School who has represented victims of abuse, calls this “the classic Mei Lei defense or the Nuremberg defense.”

    Following orders is not a defense for a person’s actions and has been rejected as a defense for 67 years. Kumiss didn’t do anything as heinous as issues quoted in the NPR story or the instances quoted by the law professor in the story, but she is responsible for carrying out what she knew was a flawed order.

  • KKSF75

    How do we know that the Chief was still in his office? Where was that mentioned and why was Kusmiss still at the police station? Did we ever find out about her overtime going to Oakley’s house after midnight? She was not at the meeting because we did see her there.
    (Mr. Love’s long story)

    As for Chief Meehan, although he makes a good salary, he does not make $350,000. Check the city website.
    A neighbor’s son was robbed near downtown and the BPD did not follow his phone and the 19 year old had a gun in his face.

  • KKSF_75

    We did not see the Sergeant Kusmiss at the Wengraf meeting.

  • Bruce Love


    How do we know that the Chief was still in his office?

    I think that’s an error in my account.   We don’t know precisely where Meehan was.   Numerous accounts place Kusmiss at HQ.   These accounts have the chief seeing the story “around midnight” and eventually ordering Kusmiss to Oakley’s.   You’re right that Meehan may have been giving that order from someplace else.

  • Redasobky

    The Peter Principal applies, he has truly risen to the level of his incompetence and we have to endure it and this incompetent city manager and our over the hill mayor, new blood, new thinking and new levels of competence are needed.

  • Tzedek-tzedek

     We agree that Berkeley Police Chief Meehan has had a difficult time, here, in Berkeley.

    However, it seems to us, few of those writing in this forum (Berkeleyside) have thought carefully about what they’ve written.

    Dealing with what has happened, in chronological order:

    FIRST, about issues related to theft of Berkeley Police Chief Meehan’s son’s cell phone:

    Fact:       For some time now, there has been a group of masked criminals, criminals who call themselves “anarchists,” hiding themselves inside the “Occupy” protests in Oakland and Berkeley.   Again-and-again, these criminals have turned honorable lawful civil protest into destructive riots by doing physical and economic harm to citizens, property, and businesses.

    These criminals have specifically announced it is their intent to “KILL COPS,” shouted-out in city meetings it is their intent to “KILL COPS,” shouted-out in our streets it is their intent to “KILL COPS,” written on placards carried through our streets it is their intent to “KILL COPS,” repeated again-and-again it is their specific expressed intention to “KILL COPS.”   

    Fact:       A cell phone, anyone’s cell phone, contains personal information that is intended for private use only. 

    Fact:       As our police chief, Chief Meehan has specific responsibility both to his family and to our community to keep his family safe.   Criminals here in the US and, more often, violent criminals in other countries specifically target families of senior police officers in order to “deliver a message.”    Who knows what these criminal “black anarchists” who have hijacked honorable “Occupy” protests might do ? To safeguard our city, to safeguard our families, Chief Meehan must safeguard his own family.

    Fact:       Peer-reviewed research has clearly demonstrated, in most any organization, a new manager is a new opportunity for rank-and-file to make fresh impressions on “the new boss.” 

    Fact:       At the time Chief Meehan’s son’s phone was stolen, Chief Meehan was “the new boss.”

    Fact:       Chief Meehan’s phone was receiving signals from his son’s phone.   Rather than relinquish his phone, Chief Meehan accompanied uniformed officers in an effort to safeguard information contained in his son’s phone.

    Fact:       Signals from a cellphone stolen from Berkeley High lead to Oakland.   (A tangential-but-interesting issue:   was that phone stolen by an Oakland resident illegally attending Berkeley High ?   If the student who stole that phone was registered with that student’s actual Oakland address, most likely, it would have been easy for Berkeley police officers to find that phone.   If an Oakland resident was illegally attending Berkley High, that student had been conditioned to know “rules of society do not apply to me because both my parents and BUSD have colluded/conspired to have me attend Berkeley High illegally,” so, thieving a phone is no big step, continuing what BUSD is teaching:   “Based on experience, I know no one requires anyone attending Berkeley High to live up to societal norms of honesty and fair play.”)

    Fact:   chief Meehan was hired by the City of Berkeley to with a specific mandate to create a professional police force and reduce rank-and-file overtime hours.   Not only was Chief Meehan an unwelcome “outsider” coming into an entrenched organization long-overdue for new management, the specific mandates demanded by our City of Berkeley made Chief Meehan unwelcome by rank-and-file city employees.

    It seems reasonable to assume that the ten officers who were available when Chief Meehan’s son’s cell phone was stolen volunteered to “help out” their new boss, hoping to “make points with the new boss.”

    However, months later, when Berkeley Police Department salary and benefit negations were on-going, these same rank-and-file city employees “leaked” what they hoped would be damaging information about the more-senior city employee who, due to circumstances beyond his control, had already been unfairly pilloried in the press.

    These rank-and-file city employees who “leaked” information about what they now say happened in relation to theft of Chief Meehan’s son’s cell phone are the same rank-and-file city employees who failed to file a timely incident report, but, now, are saying that Chief Meehan should have filed an incident report.   Typically, chiefs of police do not file incident reports; rank-and-file officers file incident reports.

    Years ago, changes in policing in New York City demonstrated enforcing simple requirements for honesty and fair dealing solved major crimes.   When transit police arrested people cheating to ride subways, DNA and other evidence showed small-time subway cheaters were the same criminals who were drug dealers, purse-snatchers, burglars, or knife-or-gun-wielding thieves.  

    SECOND, about issues related to Peter Cuckor’s tragic murder:

    Through Peter Cuckor’s involvement trying to have a fire station near his home located in the best place available, we were privileged to have known him. 

    Peter’s murder was a tragedy for all of Berkeley.  

    But Peter’s murder could not have been foreseen by anyone, including Peter.

    Think about it:   Peter was a highly intelligent person with years of life experience.   If Peter had felt his life was in danger, it is unlikely Peter would have left his home.   If Peter had stayed inside his home, it is likely Peter would be alive today.

    The first phone calls from the Cuckor home did not include statements that would lead a reasonable person to conclude the Cuckors were in fear of harm.   Remember:   Peter went out, by himself, to walk to the near-by fire station;   to choose to go out of your safe home to walk close to a person who makes you feel in fear for your life when you could stay securely inside your home to wait for assistance is not the act of an intelligent experienced person who is in fear of loosing his life.

    Yes, we have the right to expect police to be responsive, attentive, prompt, efficient.  

    However, we do not have the right to expect police to be omniscient, have capacity to know everything infinitely, able to predict outcomes based on incomplete information.  

    THIRD:   Chief Meehan’s only blunder was trying to get news reported fairly and honestly:

    There are news reporters who are habitually sloppy, are willing to bend truth to try to make false political points, make mistakes, file stories with misquotes, or just write trash.

    That Chief Meehan wanted to spare the Cuckor family from further hurt is admirable, but he goofed.   Chief Meehan’s request that Sergeant Kismuss contact that reporter to correct an egregious error in a news story, an error based on caring enough to try to protect others  (Peter’s family), but an error nonetheless.

    That Sergeant Kismuss, a respected knowledgeable officer with years of local experience, didn’t just say “No” was also a mistake.  

    When all of us are perfect, then and only then, may we speak so very harshly about good people.

    LAST:   There are far too many people in and around Berkeley willing to write statements like:   “We could demote him to be a security guard at the new People’s Resort (formerly the Claremont).”    That statement, and other similar statements, are a waste of otherwise-useful time for people who are thoughtful, hard working, trying to build a safe and fair community in Berkeley.

    Let’s not let useless self-important foolish comments sensationalize a real tragedy.    Berkeley needs to morn loss of a good person, Peter Cuckor, and get on doing good work Peter would have been helping to get done if he were still with us.

    To honor Peter Cuckor we need to get on with building a first-class city in Berkeley, a city based on principals of fairness and honesty with schools that teach students that good citizenship is their responsibility, where families can walk safely to excellent schools, and with local businesses that thrive.

  • Just Sayin’

     Doug Oakley seems to make a lot of “mistakes”  . . .

  • Just Sayin’

     What if that phone had sensitive information in it that might put his family’s safety at risk ?

    As a police officer, a police chief, he and his family are far more at risk that you or I am.

    And what about those people who broke into city hall in Oakland and have signs making threats againt police ?

  • btaxpayer

    “That Sergeant Kismuss, a respected knowledgeable officer with years of local experience, didn’t just say “No” was also a mistake.”We do not know whether Kusmiss said “No”. The Chief may not have accepted that answer. The true events will not be known until the independent investigation is released. I do not remember Chief Meehan being hired to reduce overtime and create a professional force, If you look at budgets, overtime was not out of control until he has been in office and the police have a long history of being professionals. As for crime being down, it is a national trend. All of us can bend the truth in this type of forum to fit our opinions. What would be helpful is to really know what Meehan has done since he came. Community programs don’t seem to exist under him. 

  • berkeleykev

     It is possible to be very proud of BPD and at the same time very embarrassed of Meehan.

  • berkeleykev

     Someone should find out for a fact how many phones have been stolen in Berkeley, and how many received similar responses.

    I mean, we all know the general answer to the question, and it IS NOT the answer Meehan gave (he’s full of “spit” about it) but it’d be good to see the stats so we can fire this joker.

  • berkeleykev

     I don’t care if Oakley reported that Meehan himself killed Cukor, it is unacceptable for a Chief of Police to send a cop to a reporters home after midnight to demand a change in a story.  Period.

  • berkeleykev

     Thank you.  We all know the chief is full of __it with his response, but we need to hear the stories to emphasize it.  Meehan, you lied.

  • bgal4

    You claim to be better informed than the rest of us, yet you might want to check your facts in the paragraph posted below and reconsider placing blame on the most convenient target.

    1. Officers did not leak this story, a teacher did
    2. Chief Meehan was on the news this week stating that if there was one thing he would do differently he would have filed a report.

    ” These rank-and-file city employees who “leaked” information about what
    they now say happened in relation to theft of Chief Meehan’s son’s cell
    phone are the same rank-and-file city employees who failed to file a
    timely incident report, but, now, are saying that Chief Meehan should
    have filed an incident report.   Typically, chiefs of police do not file
    incident reports; rank-and-file officers file incident reports.’

  • KKSF_75

    A bit alarmist. We have heard Chief Meehan speak in several forums and he is open about living in Berkeley and describing his sons. We doubt that anarchists were out to get him and he had some sensitive information on teenager’s phone. All police are targets and many were killed in 2011. You seem very impassioned to defend this Chief even in light of his choices.

  • GregWEK

    “When all of us are perfect –”

    Please re-consider what you wrote then. Going after the rank and file who make less than half of what the Chief makes, many of whom wanted and welcomed an outsider. A Sergeant who’s career is over because of all this exposure, Mr. CUKOR (get the spelling right, please) and the kids at Berkeley HS and the kids who live in Oakland. Say what you preach.

  • Tzedek-tzedek

    First, of course, sincere apologies to Peter’s family that I misspelled their last name.   My error was not intended as a slight of any kind.   Because I knew Peter as “Peter” and seldom used his last name, I didn’t realize I had misremembered how to spell his last name.   Please accept my apology.

    But, perhaps, my mistake inadvertently demonstrated that a whole lot of the comments written in this not-scientific “Poll” completely miss the heart of the matter.

    The point of what I wrote was:   in our experience of Peter, Peter was not foolish.   Quite the opposite;   Peter was smart and thought-through what he did.   If Peter had felt his life was in danger, it is unlikely Peter would have left his home.

    What happened to Peter was a tragedy, but what happened to Peter is not Chief Meehan’s fault.  

    And, it seems, if Peter were here, he would not be comfortable about this not-scientific “Poll” nor with thoughtless commentary written by too many contributers.

    As to other issues GregWEK wrote:

    “Going after the rank and file:”    It seems to us “the rank and file” have been “going after” Chief Meehan in particularly nasty ways.   “The rank and file” are well-paid with full health coverage and substantial retirement benefits paid by Berkeley taxpayers, but, as part of “negotiations” for more salary and benefits, “the rank and file” has chosen not to conduct business in honorable fashion.

    “A Sergeant who’s career is over because of all this exposure” ?   We certainly hope your all-knowing prediction that Sargent Kismuss’ “career is over” does not happen!  In our experience, Sergeant Kismuss is a good person and a good officer, and we expect she will continue to do well in the future.

    “The kids who live in Oakland;”   This is not rocket science.   If all students who attend Berkeley schools were required to provide BUSD with their real home address, peer-reviewed research has repeatedly and conclusively demonstrated theft and other antisocial conduct in Berkeley schools would be far less.  

  • Tzedek-tzedek

    What Chief Meehan CHOOSES to tell the general public about his family and information on a family member’s cell phone are likely very different.

    It does not seem reasonable that Chief Meehan would tell a public forum his unlisted private phone number, but, most likely, that very personal information IS on his sons’ cell phones.

    Just a few years ago (2009?) in the Seattle area, where Chief Meehan came from, several police officers were gunned-down one sunny morning in a coffee shop by a crazy person.

  • Tzedek-tzedek

    In retrospect, wouldn’t we all do things in our past a bit differently?

    However, typically, chiefs of police do not file incident reports.

    Typically, rank-and-file officers file incident reports.

  • Tzedek-tzedek

    “The true events will not be known until the independent investigation is released.”

    Agreed, and, maybe, not even then, but reading some vicious stupid attacks written to Berkeleyside’s “Poll” made us decide to write.

    In our experience, Sergeant Kismuss is a good person and a good officer,
    and we expect she will continue to do well in the future.

    We like Chief Meehan.   We do not think Chief Meehan’s choices caused Peter’s death.   Unfortunately, Peter chose to leave his home.   We will all miss him.

  • James

     anonymous posts on the internet are not proof

  • Guest

     what if they had finally busted up the cell phone theft ring that is being run through berkeley high?

  • Tzedek-tzedek

    Bruce, what DID HAPPEN and what MIGHT HAVE HAPPENED are not the same thing.

    Even with the years of experience, good officers cannot know what WILL happen.

    We cannot require police to be omniscient, all-seeing.

  • guest


  • Bruce Love

    “Tzedek” (interesting choice of name),  you write:

    We cannot require police to be omniscient, all-seeing.

    We can expect them to be truthful and forthcoming with the public.

    We can expect a chief to show some sense of proportionality in response to a F..k the Police march or a cell phone theft.

    We can expect a chief to show some sense of the legal boundaries of his office by not sending an officer to a reporter’s home in the dead of night to demand changes to a story.

    And yes, we can not ever know if bad decisions by the chief made all the tragic difference the night of the murder but we must ask if decisions that might have been a key factor were bad decisions.   To do less would be to render the chief unaccountable for his command decisions.

  • berkeleykev

     Not proof? True.  Neither is Meehan’s statement that it was a perfectly normal use of resources. 

    Unforunately, we do not have the same access to crime (and response) statistics that he does.  Even with his access to raw data, he can only throw out unsubstantiated “nothing to see here” justifications.

    Let me ask you: do you think it was normal response?  Do you think the chief actually believed what he was saying?  If so, why didn’t he have some numbers to back it up?

    Me, I think he knowingly, intentionally lied.

  • bgal4

    typically people who THINK they are EXPERT enough to provide corrections IDENTIFY themselves.

    There is no reason to give anonymous posters much credibility.

    Laura M

  • GregWEK Thousand Oaks NA

    Thank you for your explanations. As bgal wrote, it was a teacher who wrote in about the phone and it was Mr. Oakley’s paper that broke the reporter visit story. There are going to be individuals in any company that are upset but have we considered that if it is a few from “the rank and file” that they are whistleblowers? Not to mention Kusmiss who hired an attorney and had to disagree with the account of the reporter incident? The rank and file don’t get full medical benefits ever and our neighbor’s son said that you have to be an officer for 25 or 30 years. He is a Berkeley paramedic. They have a similar situation.

  • GregWEK

    Greg Thousand Oaks NA

  • GregWEK

    The Meehans information is on the Internet. and their house and jobs in Washington too. We think that if he was worried about information he would fix that and counsel his sons and wife.

  • bgal4

    Chronicle story today covers the issues well.

    For all those hard line defenders, scrutiny of the chief is a given, especially in light of his mistakes. If learning from his mistakes is the way forward,  as Meehan’s Seattle colleague suggest,  than my criticism from early days of his tenure stand.

    Early on in his tenure Meehan acknowledged that Berkeley crime rates show we have a 50% higher crime rate when compared to cities of similar size. By acknowledged this fact there was a moment of hope and trust that we finally had a top cop prepared to take the job seriously. However, Meehan quickly adapted to the directives of the city hall sounding more his predecessors presenting crime reports to council not worth  serious consideration.

    The good news is Meehan might very well have both the smarts and the spine , the bad news is he will not be successful if he does not have the support of council in defining the conflicts in policy and politics which undermine public safety goals.

    We get what we pay for, but staffing is not the only factor that determines the quality of public safety services.

    A true assessment of why the Cukor incident happened and why our schools have resisted coordination with enforcement towards a unified approach to safe schools will makes a lot of people in this town unhappy.

    Who on the Council will provide the Chief the support and define the problems accurately if Meehan is going stand up and LEAD?

    Berkeley is often describes as a very complicated city, time to insert some clarity of purpose and SIMPLIFY.

  • Tzedek-tzedek

     Then, “bgal4,” YOU FIRST !

  • Think about it

     Any report of the results of this survey on Meehan should include the fact that the survey works differently at different times as some of the comments show.  I have not responded nor do I intend to respond to this survey but I notice that at times I am offered the opportunity to participate and at other times am shown the results without being given a chance to participate even though the survey is slated to end 14 hours from now.

    That said, I would prefer to see someone undertake a comprehensive look at the situation with the city right now and analyze how the situation with the police fits in.  Some of the dissatisfaction that we are seeing with Chief Meehan are caused by things that he has done.  Most are not.

    For example, the police force has been reduced by 20% over a period of time.  The reduction in force began well before the current chief was hired.  This reduction obviously resulted from a lack of funding in the overall budget rather than from crime being so thoroughly quashed that everyone agreed the department was overstaffed.

    With this being the case, even if management of the too-small force is brilliant, there may not be enough boots on the ground which leads to inadequate police services and a citizenry that is dissatisfied with and alarmed by the inadequacy or lack of police services.

    Absence of funds for our first responders is hardly the responsibility of the chief of police or of the fire chief.  However, Chiefs Meehan and Pryor within their respective departments are the face of any loss of personnel and loss of overtime income that are the consequences of inadequate money to fund city services.

    We who pay federal, state, and local taxes that go into the city coffers are responsible for providing those funds.  Responsibility for management of that money is shared by the City Manager, the Council and the Mayor.  Some if not many of us feel that the City is failing in it duty to manage our tax money responsibly and to deliver quality services, especially given the extremely high property taxes that we pay to the city.  The deep and persistent concern with the city’s unfunded liabilities and its crumbling infrastructure are proof that there is not enough money to go around.  Any loss of protection by our first responders is exactly the same thing.  We just don’t see it physically in the same way that we see the cavernous pot holes in our streets. 

    The only solutions that are we are offered are for those who are paying taxes to pay even more taxes.  Does anyone remember a single proposal to make the existing funding do more that it is doing today despite the obvious waste and incompetence in city government?

    To my chagrin, Henry Lee’s even-handed profile of Chief
    Meehan ended on the bitter note of Susan Wengraf wondering how many
    more Meehan shoes are going to drop.  My proposal is for Ms. Wengraf and everybody else who has a part in the running the city to shoulder his or her share of the responsibility for the sorry state of our city and to devise and implement real ways to turn things around, especially as the economy improves and mood of the nation lifts. 

  • MFox327

    Spot on, JJ.  

  • bgal4

    My name is well associated with my current handle on B-side, I listed it at the bottom of this particular post and several other recent posts. Click on  the avatar and you could easily read all my posts specific to public safety and crime going back to before Meehan was hired.
    As I have said here before I have been a source for every local paper over the last decade on numerous public safety stories.

    Laura Menard

    Chief Meehan knows exactly what I think and why. He also knows from my role on BSNC what I believe still needs attention.

    google me and you will find a long history of direct involvement in community policing matters specifically school safety and actions taken in south Berkeley resulting in improved neighborhood safety.

  • bgal4

     The delay in responding to the Cukor call for service was the result of police policy not low staffing that night. That said I agree with your sentiments about low staffing and its result, I also believe that some of the operational matters associated with lower staffing level can be solved with changes to policy and practice.

  • Tzedek-tzedek

    “My proposal is for [ … ] everybody else who has a part in the
    running the city to shoulder his or her share of the responsibility for
    the sorry state of our city and to devise and implement real ways to
    turn things around, especially as the economy improves and mood of the
    nation lifts.”


  • Tzedek-tzedek

    “We either do real intervention of youthful offenders or we don’t.
    “We either stop people from camping all day on sidewalks or we don’t.
    “We either do systemic code enforcement or we don’t.
    “We either give BPD officers the tools for effective law enforcement or we don’t.
    “We either provide crime analysis based on principles of geographic policing or we don’t.
    “And we either VALUE competency and accountability or we don’t.”

    And, please, the City of Berkeley makes a simple absolute requirement that BUSD only admit students who have legal right to attend Berkeley schools so bullying and theft in our schools can be greatly reduced.

  • batard

    “Interim City Manager Christine Daniel chose not to comment.”    
    aye carumba, what’s her story?  She’s his boss for chrissake.  

  • Heather_W_62

    Thanks for mentioning that, Batard. I find it unconscionable that Daniels has consistently refused to say anything in any of the incidents that are drawing scrutiny. Unfortunately, she will probably be hired on permanently. I think she should be given the boot, too. I think there’s enough people demanding some answers that our City government should be giving us some answers. 

  • Why_hide

    Lets just call it the way it is Tzedek-tzedek you are a close friend or co-worker of Mike Meehan.  You know way too much to not be an employee of the police dept. It is hypocritical at best to call out “the rank and file” when you are hiding on a forum, and won’t give your true name to Laura Menard.  Your support of your friend is laudable, but why not be open about it?