Author Archives: Emilie Raguso

Crime

Berkeleyside blotter: Crime in Berkeley, Sept. 18-24

Selected calls for service to the Berkeley Police, via CrimeMapping.com. (Scroll down for maps of robberies, burglaries, auto burglaries and auto thefts.) Click the map for the full list. See the map key here.
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This is a partial list of recent crime in Berkeley, compiled by Berkeleyside, and based on reports to the Berkeley Police Department unless otherwise noted. The following items represent a sampling of calls, and times may be approximate.

From Sept. 18-24, there were reports of 13 burglaries24 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles and nine stolen vehicles, according to CrimeMapping.comThree robberies19 assaults, domestic violence incidents or batteries and one sexual assault were reported. Significant incidents from the University of California Police Department included a weapons call, a sexual assault, a burglary and a vehicle theft. In addition, BART Police noted a robbery at the North Berkeley BART station. These numbers are subject to change. Click the links above for the latest numbers.

We always appreciate photographs and tips, about breaking news or neighborhood safety issues, via email at tips@berkeleyside.com or on Facebook or Twitter; please let us know up front if you prefer to be anonymous.

Thursday, Sept. 18

Two vehicles were stolen, at 8:25 a.m. in the 2200 block of Jefferson Avenue, and at 6 p.m. in the 1400 block of 10th Street. A vehicle was also stolen from University Village in Albany at 7:17 a.m., according to the University of California Police Department.

A business was burglarized at 10:09 a.m. in the 2900 block of College Avenue.

Someone brandished a weapon at 12:30 p.m. at West Street and University Avenue. … Continue reading »

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With Berkeley set to change civic center zoning, US Postal Service ponders lawsuit

The Berkeley City Council is poised to set up new zoning standards in Civic Center. Image: City of Berkeley
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The U.S. Postal Service is pushing back against a city proposal to limit development at its downtown Berkeley post office property, which has been up for sale since 2012.

Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council is slated to approve that proposal, to establish more restrictive development standards in Berkeley’s civic center on nine parcels, including the post office property at Allston Way and Milvia Street.

An attorney for the post office, R. Clark Morrison, has sent five letters to the city since January in opposition to the plan, decrying it as spot zoning, and saying the city’s decision not to pursue a full environmental review in connection with the plan is at odds with its own code and the law. On Monday, Morrison declined to comment on the matter, but one city staffer familiar with the issue said the USPS is likely to sue the city if council approves the zoning changes.

Postal Service spokesman Augustine Ruiz Jr. said via email Monday that “The Postal Service is evaluating all options with respect to the actions taken by the City of Berkeley, including evaluating the possibility of litigation.” … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeley police arrest armed felon with robbery warrant

Image: Google maps
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Police arrested an armed man in South Berkeley earlier this month who was wanted in connection with one robbery, and on probation for another.

On Sept. 14, Berkeley Police Officer Derek Radey was on patrol near 67th and Mabel streets, not far from San Pablo Avenue, when he happened upon a green Ford without license plates that was parked in the middle of the road, according to court papers.

Radey spoke with the driver, who identified himself as 28-year-old Keith Davis Jr. of Berkeley.

Davis had an active felony warrant for robbery and another warrant for domestic violence. He also was on probation for robbery, which allowed police to search him.  … Continue reading »

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Government

The lowdown: Berkeley council on homelessness, ride-sharing, minimum wage, solar bins, more

A "family" of homeless youth in Berkeley. Photo: Keith Chastain
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The Berkeley City Council meets Tuesday this week, with a special session on how the city is working to streamline its approach to homeless services at 5:30 p.m., and the regular meeting at 7 p.m.

The special session

Coming up first, an in-depth look at homelessness in Berkeley, including an update about an effort to improve the way people access services the city offers. Earlier this year, the city hired a consultant to look closely at the city’s process for providing services. The consultant highlighted several areas for improvement, noting that the city is providing overlapping and duplicative services to people; that those with the highest needs are not “effectively targeted” for help; that money is not focused enough on helping people get housing; and that the delayed process for data-entry is also leading to inefficiencies. Read the report. … Continue reading »

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New beer garden, retail planned on Spenger’s block

An artist's rendering of "Fourth & Spenger" at 1901 Fourth St. Image: Abrams/Millikan
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Citing the need to revitalize a business that’s been on the decline for decades, a developer is seeking to make major changes to the West Berkeley block where Spenger’s Fish Grotto has operated since 1933.

Berkeley’s Abrams/Millikan, an architecture and design firm, has big plans for the Fourth Street property, which include the creation of a new beer garden, and the addition of retail shops, office space and parking. The existing restaurant use will remain, but on a smaller scale.

The city’s Design Review Committee took a look at those plans last week, but Abrams/Millkan — working with San Francisco-based Jamestown Properties — held a community meeting in June to provide an overview of the project. According to developers, about 20 people attended, and seven people signed a petition in support of the project, which is called “Fourth & Spenger.” The project was submitted to the city by Elliott Abrams later that month.

Read more about development in Berkeley.

In total, developers plan to add just 10,000 square feet of structure to the property. But some existing buildings on the block are set to be demolished and replaced with new uses, including about 3,500 feet for the beer garden and adjacent patio, nearly 18,000 square feet of new retail shops — on the corners of both Fourth and Fifth streets at Hearst Avenue — and 1,900 square feet for a new fish market next to the restaurant. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Teen charged in stabbing of 72-year-old woman

A 2011 photograph of Kamau Berlin. Source: Facebook
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An 18-year-old man has been charged with attempted murder in the stabbing in South Berkeley last week that left a 72-year-old woman with critical injuries.

Police say Kamau Jawhar Berlin, of Richmond, tried to steal the woman’s Honda on Friday, then stabbed her twice in the throat when the car wouldn’t start. The assault took place at 4:30 p.m. at Otis and Russell streets, not far from the Ashby BART station.

According to court papers, a witness said she was walking by the car and saw a woman on the ground and bleeding from the face. A man was trying to start the Honda, but was unsuccessful.

The woman asked the witness for help, and the man picked her up and put her into the back of the car. He told the witness he was “just trying to help her,” according to police. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Cousins take manslaughter plea in Berkeley shooting

A small memorial was set up in West Berkeley near the site of Zontee Jones' death earlier this year. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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The case against two cousins charged with shooting to death a man in Berkeley last year resolved Wednesday with a manslaughter plea, the same week the case was set to begin trial.

Maurice Thomas Jr. and Jevon Calland, both 22, had been charged with killing 34-year-old Zontee Jones in Berkeley in February 2013 during a confrontation on Delaware Street not far from San Pablo Avenue.

The men pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter before Alameda County Superior Court Judge Stuart Hing, and are scheduled to return to court for sentencing Jan. 5.

Thomas — whom authorities say fired the fatal shots — faces 21 years in prison. Calland faces 16 years. Conflicting evidence has, however, been presented in previous court hearings that casts some doubt on exactly what happened. … Continue reading »

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Always on call: Inside the Berkeley Police dispatch center

Berkeley Police dispatch center. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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For most people in crisis, the first point of contact for help is not the officer or the firefighter, but a voice on the phone line. A missing loved one, a car crash, a harrowing encounter with a violent stranger: dialing 911 happens as the situation unfolds, or in its immediate aftermath.

But who answers those calls? And who sends help? In Berkeley, at any given time, four to six people are charged with those responsibilities. Earlier this year — as the police department grappled to reorganize its dispatch center prompted by tensions with officers, complaints from the public and a lawsuit that aimed to highlight, and drive, needed changes in practice — Berkeleyside signed up to “sit along” on a Friday night dispatch shift for an inside look at how the office runs.

What challenges does the job bring, and what skills does it require? What do dispatchers wish the public knew? Is there a way to complain if a dispatcher falls short? Read on for an in-depth report on this crucial public service department, which handles critical situations throughout Berkeley on a daily basis. 

“You can’t be in a dispatch center if you can’t listen to 100 things at once”

In a dimly-lit room in the Berkeley Police Department, where screens outnumber bodies more than four to one, the ringing of the telephone can signal anything from a barking dog or loud party to a suicide attempt, a brutal killing or a hostage situation. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeleyside Blotter: Crime in Berkeley, Sept. 11-17

Selected calls for service to the Berkeley Police, via CrimeMapping.com. (Scroll down for maps of burglaries, auto burglaries and auto thefts.) Click the map for the full list. See the map key here.
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This is a partial list of recent crime in Berkeley, compiled by Berkeleyside, and based on reports to the Berkeley Police Department unless otherwise noted. The following items represent a sampling of calls, and times may be approximate.

From Sept. 11-17, there were reports of 19 burglaries23 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles and seven stolen vehicles, according to CrimeMapping.comTwelve robberies17 assaults, domestic violence incidents or batteries and two sexual assaults were reported. Significant incidents from the University of California Police Department included a robbery and three vandalisms. These numbers are subject to change. Click the links above for the latest numbers.

We always appreciate photographs and tips, about breaking news or neighborhood safety issues, via email at tips@berkeleyside.com or on Facebook or Twitter; please let us know up front if you prefer to be anonymous.

Thursday, Sept. 11

Police responded to two disturbance calls, at 3:30 p.m. in the 2800 block of Adeline Street, and at 6:20 p.m. in the 1600 block of 63rd Street.

A business was burglarized at 6:30 p.m. in the 1500 block of Shattuck Avenue. … Continue reading »

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Cyclist dies after North Berkeley crash with car

Kurt Wehner. Photo: Facebook
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Local cyclist Kurt Wehner died Monday after being involved in a crash with a vehicle in North Berkeley on Sunday morning.

Berkeley resident Wehner, 62, died Monday at Highland Hospital in Oakland at 4 p.m., according to the Alameda County coroner’s office. No cause of death has been listed, pending an autopsy that will likely be performed Tuesday.

Writing on Facebook on Monday evening, John Lutterman of Anchorage, Alaska, identified Wehner as his cousin. Lutterman said Wehner had been disconnected from life support Monday and had died.

“Kurt, and his brother Todd, turned me on to serious biking when I was a kid,” he wrote. “I’ll miss Kurt’s endlessly good-natured Heyoka spirit. Reliving many poignant, but also lots of crazy and funny memories of Kurt tonight.” … Continue reading »

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Crime

18-year-old arrested in stabbing of 72-year-old woman

Image: Google Maps
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A teenager from Richmond was arrested after a stabbing in Berkeley on Friday afternoon that left a 72-year-old woman in critical condition.

The woman remained in a local hospital for treatment as of Monday, according to a police statement released just after 2 p.m.

Friday, police arrested 18-year-old Kamau Berlin near the scene of the attack, but his name was not released until Monday.

Police were called to the intersection of Russell and Otis streets at 4:30 p.m. Friday for a report of a disturbance, according to a prepared statement from police. Police were told a woman was yelling for help.  … Continue reading »

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Community

Berkeley, Albany disaster prep day comes Oct. 18

Berkeley CERT training, May 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Berkeley’s annual disaster preparedness event is coming up next month with activities to teach residents how to handle kids and pets in an emergency, as well as general skills.

The 2014 event is scheduled for Oct. 18, from 9-11 a.m. It can be customized for any schedule, with exercises that take anywhere from 5 minutes to the whole two hours. It’s a self-directed exercise, which means you can perform the activities in your home or business, or with an organized neighborhood group. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Breaking: Berkeley police arrest suspect in homicide attempt of woman in 70s

Image: Google Maps
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A woman in her 70s was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries after an assault by a man who was arrested by police Friday, authorities said.

Police were called to the intersection of Russell and Otis streets at 4:30 p.m. for a report of a disturbance, according to a prepared statement released by police.

Police were told a woman was yelling for help. They arrived within minutes and saw a man flee on foot who matched the description provided by callers. … Continue reading »

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