Category Archives: Police

Police hold art show to raise money for turkey baskets; fundraiser tonight at Berkeley Underground

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After a two-year hiatus, the Berkeley Police Association has brought back its holiday “turkey basket” program for families in need.

The association is holding an art show Wednesday night, Nov. 19, to raise money for that program by selling photographs by three Berkeley Police officers. The charity event takes place at the recently opened Berkeley Underground nightclub in downtown Berkeley, at 2284 Shattuck Ave.

Officer Stephanie Polizziani, who helped organize the event, said the department used to raise money for turkey baskets — containing a turkey and fixings for sides and dessert — until two years ago when the program lapsed due to a lack of funding.

Polizziani said she was inspired to organize the renewed effort after the department received numerous inquiries over the past two years from people who had come to rely on the program. … Continue reading »

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Man tries to jump in front of BART train in Berkeley

Two people have been rescued from the tracks since Saturday at the North Berkeley BART station. Photo: Austin Cross
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A distraught man tried to jump in front of a train at the North Berkeley BART station Sunday night, the day after another man tried to commit suicide in the same station, authorities said.

According to the BART police, a man who was “distraught over dating relationship issues” jumped onto the tracks as a train entered the station at approximately 9:30 p.m.

Michael Mighetto Hoefling said he was getting off a train when he heard a man yelling loudly. 

“Most of the people going home exited, and just as I was about to [leave] I went back down the stairs,” he said via email. Someone was screaming, and “yelling ‘a man is on the tracks.’ It was a horrific sound.”

Hoefling recorded the aftermath of the incident, mostly by audio, as the man was being pulled off the tracks by a passer-by. He described the harrowing scene to Berkeleyside.  … Continue reading »

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Man, 20, found dead after party at Berkeley frat house

Police police cars outside the fraternity where a 20-year-old was found dead Nov. 9. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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A 20-year-old man was found dead Sunday afternoon at the Zeta Psi fraternity in Berkeley, at 2728 Bancroft Ave., the day after the frat threw a large party that drew hundreds of attendees.

Police responded to a call about an unresponsive male just before 12:10 p.m., and found a man face down in a room in the fraternity, according to Lt. Ed Spiller of the Berkeley Police Department.

The Berkeley Fire Department also responded, and confirmed that the man had died. No time of death has been provided, but the man was described as “cold to the touch” over the police scanner. … Continue reading »

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Update: Man taken to hospital with moderate injuries after incident at North Berkeley BART; station has re-opened

The North Berkeley BART station. Photo: Ryan Anderson
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BART has closed its North Berkeley station after a report at 4:26 p.m. Saturday of a person under a train.

Scroll to the bottom of this post for updates.

According to a statement from BART, the victim was reported under a train traveling from Richmond to Fremont.

BART is attempting to get a bus bridge in place between the North Berkeley and Del Norte stations, but currently the North Berkeley station is closed and there is no service.

According to unconfirmed scanner traffic reviewed by Berkeleyside, Berkeley firefighters were dispatched to platform 2 at the North Berkeley BART station just after 4:30 p.m. after someone reportedly jumped in front of a BART train. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley police rule cyclist responsible for fatal crash

Kurt Wehner. Photo via Facebook
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Authorities have found a 62-year-old Berkeley cyclist at fault for the crash with a vehicle that ultimately took his life about three weeks ago.

In response to repeated inquiries from Berkeleyside, police said Tuesday that Kurt Wehner rode through a stop sign and crashed into a 2008 Volkswagen in a North Berkeley intersection Sept. 21 shortly after 8 a.m. at Spruce and Eunice streets.

Wehner, a longtime Berkeley resident, died the following day at Highland Hospital.

Berkeley police investigators said Tuesday in a prepared statement that Wehner had been riding his mountain-style bike south on Spruce toward Eunice, where there was a posted stop sign for southbound traffic.

“Just prior the bicyclist was passing vehicles on the wrong side of the roadway at an unsafe speed in violation of the posted 25 mph speed limit,” police wrote.

The Volkswagen — driven by a 63-year-old Berkeley resident whose name has not been released — had stopped on Eunice facing east. The driver had proceeded into the intersection when, police say, Wehner crashed into the vehicle.  … Continue reading »

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Police ticket pedestrians for downtown traffic violations

Police conduct pedestrian stops for violations at Shattuck and Center in downtown Berkeley on Sept. 23, 2014. Photo: Eric Panzer
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On Monday, Berkeley police were stopping and ticketing pedestrians at Shattuck Avenue and Center Street in downtown Berkeley for, among other violations, crossing against the lights or crossing the street after the alert light had stopped blinking.

The stops were part of what BPD’s Traffic Bureau calls an education enforcement project that is happening all this week in the downtown area. Officers will be enforcing other violations in relation to vehicle and bicycle safety, BPD said in a release.

“The ultimate goal of the projects is to foster greater overall traffic and pedestrian safety,” the department wrote. … 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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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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Bicyclist suffers life-threatening injuries after colliding with car at the intersection of Spruce and Eunice

A cyclist was struck by a car Sunday morning at the intersection of Spruce and Eunice. Photo: Larry Kudsk
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A bicyclist pedaling on Spruce near Eunice was seriously injured this morning when the bicyclist and a car collided, according to Berkeley police.

The accident happened at at 8:15 a.m. and the bicyclist suffered life-threatening injuries, according to police. He or she was transported to the hospital.

The Fatal Accident Investigation Team is on the scene. The driver and witnesses are cooperating with investigators. Police have not said which party was at fault in the accident.

The police department is … Continue reading »

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Richmond man dies after Berkeley motorcycle crash

Photo: Alexander Sinclair Merenkov‎
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A 48-year-old Richmond man died after a collision with a pick-up truck in Berkeley last week, authorities reported Thursday evening.

Friday, Sept. 12, Berkeley Police officers responded to an injury collision at Martin Luther King Jr. Way and University Avenue just after 8:30 p.m., said Officer Jennifer Coats, department spokeswoman, in a prepared statement.

The motorcyclist was identified as Gregory Allen Scoggin of Richmond. … Continue reading »

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Violent crime reports down 44% in Berkeley

The 2014 mid-year crime report. Image: Berkeley Police Department
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Fewer robberies, rapes and aggravated assaults led to a 44% drop in violent crime reports for serious offenses in Berkeley over the first half of the year, according to new data released by the Berkeley Police Department.

The mid-year crime report for January through June 2014 — scheduled to be presented to the Berkeley City Council later this month — shows decreases since last year in many of the crimes that tend to cause the most alarm.

It’s the first time the overall violent crime numbers have dropped since 2011. Robberies, especially, showed a steep decline. Property crimes, too, also fell, other than a 4% increase in vehicle thefts, according to the report. … Continue reading »

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City of Berkeley solicits Taser study; anti-Taser group to hold forum Thursday night

Advocates for and against Tasers showed up Tuesday night to speak to the Berkeley City Council. Glenn Turner, in front, says she would rather see an investment in mental health resources. Behind her is an officer whose hand was broken during a recent physical fight with a suspect who refused to stop when the officer asked him to. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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As the city of Berkeley ramps up efforts to study whether its police force should carry Tasers, a local coalition has planned a forum Thursday night to collect community feedback on the issue.

The Berkeley City Council voted 6-3 in May to have the city study the thorny question. Council members Max Anderson, Kriss Worthington and Jesse Arreguín voted against the proposal from council members Laurie Capitelli, Gordon Wozniak and Darryl Moore to get a report from the city manager about Tasers, and have the city’s Police Review Commission consider the subject as well.

Many Berkeley Police officers attended the meeting in May and spoke about the need to carry Tasers, which they say would make officers and those who come into contact with them safer, and also save the city money in the long run. Officers have said data show that departments with Tasers have seen fewer “use of force” complaints, fewer injuries to officers and suspects, and reduced costs associated with on-the-job injuries.

Community members who do not believe police should carry Tasers also shared their concerns: that police have enough weapons, that Berkeley doesn’t have enough crime to justify adding another one, and that there are too many risks associated with Taser shocks. They cited the possibility of pre-existing medical conditions that could increase health risks, as well as concerns about the disproportionate use of Tasers on minorities, the poor and people in mental health crisis.

The city issued a request for proposals Aug. 25 to find a consultant to look into the matter. Proposals are due Tuesday at 2 p.m. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley man, 60, falls to his death from Grizzly Peak Blvd

Grizzly Peak Blvd near Signpost 14. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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Update, 1:20 p.m.: The victim has been identified by the Alameda County Coroner’s Bureau as Donald Terrence Odwyer, 60, of Berkeley. UCPD Lt. Marc DeCoulode said witnesses saw Odwyer walking then falling on Grizzly Peak Blvd Sunday. They called emergency services at 8:24 p.m. Moraga and Orinda Fire Department responded. UCPD arrived on scene at 9:45 p.m. after jurisdiction was established. The incident happened on UC Berkeley property. Odwyer was pronounced dead at the scene. 

Original story: A 60-year-old Berkeley man died after falling from a look-out spot on Grizzly Peak Boulevard on the evening of Sunday, Aug. 17, according to UC Berkeley Police. … Continue reading »

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