More than 100 people crowded into the Maudelle Shirek building in downtown Berkeley on Thursday morning to celebrate three promotions and recognize the retirement of a longtime officer from the Berkeley Police Department.
Opening these ceremonies to the public is a relatively new move by the department to give the community a chance to learn about how officers approach their work, said Police Chief Michael Meehan.
“It’s something I changed when I got hired,” said Meehan. “We’re proud of who we are and what we’re doing in this city, and we want people to know who their officers are.”
Said Police Capt. Andrew Greenwood: “It’s an opportunity to reaffirm our values and hear, from the heart, what people in the department think about their jobs.”
Capt. Erik Upson said the event is an opportunity to recognize the “tradition and timelessness” of police work.
“To me this job is so much more than a job, and you hear that in what people say here,” he said. “Service to the community is what it’s all about.”
The first person recognized Thursday was Lt. Diane Delaney, a UC Berkeley graduate who started with the Berkeley Police in 1985. Over the years, she’s worked patrol, sex crimes, violence suppression and community services. In 1988, she was the first woman appointed to the department’s hostage negotiation team. She is the fifth female officer ever to retire in the history of the agency.
After her son, Brent, pinned a badge recognizing her retirement onto her jacket, Delaney spoke with emotion about how tough it is to say goodbye.
“I’ve done everything I wanted to do in my career,” she told the crowd. “This is a young person’s game and I’m leaving it to an amazing group of people.”
Delaney talked about her experience of the police department as a second family: “You spend more time with these people than you do with your own family. You share dangerous times, stressful times, the good and the bad, deaths and births.”
And Delaney reflected back on her selection as the first woman to be a member of the hostage negotiation team: “Berkeley opened doors to women before many other agencies.”
One of her duties throughout her career was to serve as a field training officer to teach new hires how to do the job. Delaney talked about the selectiveness of the agency, and how each new officer is “handpicked” from among a wide field of applicants. (Said Chief Meehan: “Harvard accepts more of their applicants than the Berkeley Police Department does.”)
Next up was Sgt. Cesar Melero, whose promotion to sergeant earlier this year was recognized Thursday. Melero was born in Mexico, moved to the United States at age 10, and grew up in East Oakland. Since he started with the Berkeley Police in 1995, Melero has held assignments in patrol, the drug task force, the fraud detail and the community services bureau. He’s also served on the tactical team as a marksmen, along with a number of other roles.
Sgt. Frank Landrum, a former locomotive engineer for the Santa Fe Railroad who joined the Berkeley Police in 2002, was also recognized for his promotion to sergeant. Landrum has held assignments in patrol, the drug task force and the robbery detail, and is a marksman on the tactical team.
“I hope, as a sergeant, I help people along the way, because I know people have been there for me,” he said. “I really believe in what we do. I believe in helping the people of this city. And I’ll believe in it until the day I retire.”
Recognized for his promotion to lieutenant was Andrew Rateaver, who was born and raised in Oakland and became a Berkeley Police officer in 1988. After assignments in patrol and community services, he was a patrol supervisor and a bike patrol sergeant. Rateaver has also served on the Special Response Team in various roles, and was recognized in 2008 as the Berkeley Police “Officer of the Year.” In 2009 he received a Medal of Honor. He teaches emergency management to public safety agencies throughout the state.
Rateaver said he’s “always tried to hold sacred” the trust officers put in him and other supervisors: “It’s almost magical,” he said. “You’re out there and taking care of stuff, you know, that’s sacred. And most of it the public will never know. I’m looking forward to even more of that magic.”
Berkeleyside publishes many articles every day. To see all our stories in chronological order, and read ones you may have missed, check out our All the News grid.