Category Archives: Police

Berkeley police emphasize ‘culture of de-escalation’

Berkeley police practice de-escalation skills during a drill in the old Pyramid brewery. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Two officers pull up to a house in Berkeley. There’s yelling coming from inside: Roommates are fighting about the rent and police have been dispatched to respond.

As the officers approach, the roommates come outside, still fighting. One of them has a gun. Seeing police, he grabs his roommate, holds him at gunpoint and drags him back inside.

The officers are ordering him to drop the gun but he refuses.

“We want to keep you guys safe,” an officer yells to the man.

“We’re safe. Go find some real shit to do!” the man yells.

“What do you need from us?” asks the officer.

“I need you to leave, bro,” the man replies.

The officers spend several more minutes trying to speak with the man: to have him toss his gun outside, send out his roommate, or provide his phone number so police can call him rather than shouting through the open doorway.

But he doesn’t come out. Instead, a trainer in a red shirt calls “time” and the officers, from the Berkeley Police Department, circle up to discuss the drill. It was one of three scenarios they ran through Thursday inside the vacant Pyramid brewery on Gilman Street in West Berkeley.

The goal of the training was to practice using verbal de-escalation tactics instead of force. It’s an approach the department already prides itself on using on a daily basis. But, as police shootings and use of force continue to draw increased scrutiny nationwide, the department says it is stepping up its efforts to ensure officers use those skills in Berkeley whenever possible.

“The Berkeley Police Department has a culture of de-escalation,” said Sgt. Spencer Fomby, a BPD use of force instructor and a leader on its tactical team. “We look at things differently. We try to take a different approach. You can tell by the outcomes that that is our goal.” … Continue reading »

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Police: Possible BB gun used in Berkeley students’ assault

I-House. Photo- UC Berkeley
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UC Berkeley Police reported that a man began shooting at a group of UC Berkeley students early Monday morning. The weapon may have been a pellet or BB gun, police said. Nobody was seriously hurt, but one victim sustained a minor injury and was treated at a local emergency room.

According to UCPD, the assault happened at about 12:22 a.m. at International House, at the intersection of Piedmont Avenue and Bancroft Way. Eight Cal students were standing and sitting on the steps outside International House, also known as I-House, when they noticed a man standing across the street holding what appeared to be a gun. It was later determined to be possibly a pellet or BB gun.

The suspect started shooting the gun towards I-House and the students ran inside.

Witnesses who spoke to the police reported that there may have been a second male suspect who was letting off fireworks.

One victim was taken to the hospital to be treated for a minor injury. … Continue reading »

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Petition to fire Berkeley teacher garners 500 signatures

yvette felarci featured
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A petition to oust a Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School teacher who was involved with a counter-protest against a white supremacist group in Sacramento has gathered more than 500 signatures

The middle school teacher’s involvement at the protest prompted threats of violence against students at King.

Yvette Felarca — the middle school teacher and a member of the group By Any Means Necessary, which says it’s “building a new civil rights movement” — was filmed in Sacramento on June 26 taunting and hitting a neo-Nazi attending a rally led by the Traditionalist Worker Party, a white nationalist extremist group. The violent altercation made headlines across the U.S. after seven people were stabbed and 10 hospitalized during the pandemonium.

Robert Jacobsen, a former student at King Middle School, launched a petition drive on Change.org after learning about Felarca’s involvement in the Sacramento altercation. The petition demands that the Berkeley Unified School District fire Felarca. It argues that citizens of the U.S., regardless of their political views have the right to free speech. Felarca’s interference with those rights are grounds for dismissal, according to the petition. Continue reading »

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UC Berkeley student among those killed in Bangladesh terrorist attack

Tarishi Jain. Photo: UC Berkeley
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Update July 5: Cal will hold a vigil from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday on Sproul Plaza to remember Tarishi Jain.

Original story, July 2, 8:14 a.m. An 18-year-old UC Berkeley economics student was killed sometime Friday or Saturday by ISIS gunmen who stormed a cafe in Bangladesh and hacked about 20 people to death.

Tarishi Jain of India was among those slain, according to the New York Times. Her death was confirmed by Sushma Swaraj, India’s minister of external affairs.

Scroll down for a statement from UC Berkeley.

“I am extremely pained to share that the terrorists have killed Tarushi [sic], an Indian girl who was taken hostage in the terror attack in Dhaka,” Swaraj posted on Twitter.

She was a sophomore at UC Berkeley, according to a statement released Saturday morning by the university. (Scroll down to read it.)

Jain had gone to the restaurant, Holey Artisan Bakery, in Dhaka’ s diplomatic quarter to have dinner with friends, one of her relatives told the Indian Express. Around 9:20 p.m. gunmen stormed the restaurant and took about 20 people hostage, most of them foreigners, according to news reports. They held police at bay for 11 hours. Police eventually stormed the restaurant around 7:40 a.m. Saturday and killed six gunmen, according to new reports. Thirteen hostages were rescued. … Continue reading »

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Anonymous email threatens students at Berkeley school after Sacramento rally tied to local teacher

A police cruiser was parked outside Martin Luther King. Jr. Middle School on Monday. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Local and federal authorities investigated threats Monday targeting youth at a North Berkeley middle school by a group that demanded the termination of a teacher who protested against a neo-Nazi rally in Sacramento over the weekend.

The rally Sunday made national headlines due to violent clashes between the white supremacists who took out a permit to rally at the state capitol and the counter-protesters who showed up to confront them. According to some news reports, members of the counter-protest appear to have initiated the violence. The LA Times reported that seven people were stabbed and 10 hospitalized.

Read Berkeleyside’s July update.

One of the people who took responsibility for helping organize the counter-protest was Yvette Felarca, a teacher at North Berkeley’s Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, at 1781 Rose St. Felarca is an organizer with the activist group By Any Means Necessary, which helped lead a series of Black Lives Matter protests in Berkeley in December 2014.

Parents of day campers were told Monday morning that one of the counter-protesters from Sacramento had been linked to the Berkeley school where the camps were located. The public outing had prompted an influx of emails to the principal demanding that the teacher be fired. … Continue reading »

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Automated license plate readers will help parking availability but some express concern about privacy issues

A picture of the ALPR from Genetec, which is providing the devices for Berkeley
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Berkeley has launched a program to use a controversial technology that automatically reads license plates on cars to optimize and enforce parking, part of a larger effort to encourage more Berkeley residents not to drive.

The program, which began in May, aims to make the tedious and time-consuming process of conducting manual surveys of downtown parking — which takes more than two months from start to finish — more efficient, Matthai Chakko, city spokesman, told Berkeleyside. The city uses data from the surveys — how often and at what times parking spaces are occupied, for example — to adjust parking pricing and time limits based on people’s behavior.

“It’s extremely labor intensive to input every single license plate and license plate readers automate the manual data collection,” Chakko said, adding that it improved the accuracy of the assessments and allows them to be conducted more frequently. The readers also eliminate the need to manually chalk tires to enforce time limits, he said.

But some civil libertarians have expressed concern that the data collected by police can be used to track the movements of individuals and have called for tighter control of the data collected. The Police Review Commission is set to discuss the technology and its implications at a future meeting. It was going to discuss the issue Wednesday but the meeting was canceled due to lack of a quorum, according to Katherine J. Lee, who staffs the commission.

Berkeley has equipped five parking enforcement vehicles with the automated license plate readers (ALPR), which will also be used to conduct parking enforcement — such as booting or towing vehicles with more than five citations that are more than 30 days old — and search for stolen cars. … Continue reading »

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Police

Man taken to Highland after fall into moving vehicle

Police responded to a traffic incident Monday at San Pablo and Cedar after a man in the median fell into a city-owned vehicle as it passed him. Image: Google Maps
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A man standing on a West Berkeley median fell into a city-owned vehicle in the roadway and was taken to the hospital with serious injuries Monday, authorities said.

The man was standing on the center divider on San Pablo Avenue near Cedar Street when he fell, said Sgt. Andrew Frankel of the Berkeley Police Department, “striking a city vehicle that was passing.” (Update: A witness at the scene said the man appeared to be a panhandler.)

The man’s injuries appeared serious and he was taken to Highland Hospital in Oakland with an apparent head injury at about 1:30 p.m.

A local business owner said he saw lots of police in the area in front of pet supply store Animal Farm, as well as a crime scene investigation van, around 2:30 p.m.

Not sure if it was serious, but certainly looked it,” he said. “I came back around 4:45 and it was back to normal.”Continue reading »

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Large truck overturns in Berkeley Hills; driver extricated

A truck overturned Thursday on Glendale in Berkeley. Photo: Courtesy of Battalion Chief Paul Cavagnaro
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A large truck hauling sand in the North Berkeley Hills overturned Thursday afternoon, and bystanders had to extricate the driver, who was taken to the hospital, authorities said.

Deputy Fire Chief Donna McCracken said the truck had been hauling sand while driving down Glendale Avenue when it “lost its brakes” around 1:30 p.m.

In an emergency maneuver, the driver steered up onto a private driveway at La Loma Avenue to stop the vehicle.

McCracken said the truck struck a parked car and retaining wall, causing damage, before it rolled onto its side.  … Continue reading »

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Police: Missing 84-year-old Dorothy Ewing has been found

missing
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Update, 8:40 p.m.: Good news: Dorothy Ewing has been located. According to a Nixle alert issued by BPD at around 7:45 p.m., Ewing was found at about 6 p.m. Monday evening in downtown Oakland. The Berkeley Police Department said it would like to thank the public for its assistance in locating her.

Original story: Berkeley Police are asking for the community’s help in locating a missing “at-risk” woman. BPD issued a Nixle alert about the case at 4 p.m. Monday.

Dorothy … Continue reading »

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WWII hand grenade found in planter at Berkeley home

The grenade that was found. Photo: BPD
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On Tuesday, a World War II-era hand grenade was unearthed in the planter box of a home in the 1200 block of Spruce Street.

At 4 p.m., Berkeley Police dispatch received a report of a possible explosive device, according to a Nixle alert put out by BPD Wednesday morning. The department’s Explosive Ordinance Disposal team responded and recovered a World War II-era, French military, training hand grenade. The grenade had been dug up when some work was being done on the property, BPD said. The device was safely disposed of by the EOD Team.

The grenade was wrapped in plastic which protected it from the elements, according to Sergeant Andrew Frankel, a spokesman for BPD. This helped authorities identify it: “There were visible stamps made on the metal which can be traced back to where it originated from,” he said. … Continue reading »

Young man shot multiple times in San Pablo Park

Authorities are standing by in San Pablo Park for the arrival of a patient from Alta Bates Hospital. Photo: hfidek
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There was a shooting in San Pablo Park in Berkeley on Tuesday morning, according to authorities.

Officer Byron White of the Berkeley Police Department said that the shooting took place at around 11 a.m and it resulted in one victim. The victim, a young man estimated to be in his 20s, was shot multiple times and was transported to a local hospital. His condition is unknown, Officer White said.

The victim was found outside the restrooms in the park, adjacent to the basketball courts.

The suspect is described as a young man estimated to be in his 20s, light-skinned, with short hair and about 6 ft tall. He was wearing a cream-colored shirt and baggy jeans. He was last seen heading east on Ward Street from Park Street, according to Officer White. … Continue reading »

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Human skull, bones found on Berkeley Lab property

A human skull and three bones were unearthed on Berkeley Lab property on Monday. Photo: LBL Photo: Berkeley Lab
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A human skull and three human bones were discovered on Berkeley Lab property Monday during some routine digging to clear a ditch.

According to a release put out by the Lab on Wednesday, a Lab facilities crew working to clear a drainage ditch in “very steep and brushy terrain” on Berkeley Lab’s southern perimeter discovered a skull and one bone around 1:30 p.m. Monday.

The Alameda County coroner’s office was called in and completed its search of the site on Tuesday after finding two more bones. The remains were found outside of Berkeley Lab’s fence line but on Berkeley Lab’s property. 

It is not known how long the remains were in the ditch, nor how old they are. Foul play is not suspected, according to the Lab’s statement, pending new information from the coroner’s office.

Jon Weiner, a spokesman for the Lab, said they were waiting to hear back from the coroner’s office as to any possible identification of the remains. … Continue reading »

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Neighbors, police vow new push on crime prevention

Community members and police met Monday night to discuss crime prevention efforts. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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A Berkeley community group focused on crime prevention pledged to up its game Monday night, and representatives from the Police Department said they plan to ramp up their own collaboration with neighbors.

Those efforts may be particularly important given the double-digit increase in crime Berkeley saw in 2015. Berkeley police officials reported in March that overall Part 1 crime — a federal designation for the most serious incidents — was up 16% in 2015 compared to the prior year. Violent crime increased 20%, especially in the area of robberies, while property crime was up 16%. There was a 28% increase in vehicle thefts as compared to the prior year.

And, already this year, there has been an unsolved series of high-profile sexual assaults and at least half a dozen shootings.

The group that met Monday, the Berkeley Safe Neighborhoods Committee (BSNC), has worked for some time to provide a city-wide scope to, and coordination about, block-level crime concerns. It meets monthly with police and sometimes takes positions on public safety problems, primarily through letters to council and other city leaders. But active participation in the organization has languished, and its board is working to re-energize the group, which has more than 100 people on its email list.

What’s your neighborhood group? Please let Berkeleyside know.*

One way the BSNC hopes to revive itself is through Facebook: The group has launched a new Facebook page to help neighbors connect. Former Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean, who helps oversee the BSNC, announced the Facebook page Monday night. Dean said the board is committed to a “coordinated approach” that involves all the city’s Neighborhood Watch and disaster preparedness groups that want to join forces. … Continue reading »

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