Category Archives: Police

Police

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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Police

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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Police

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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Police

Police report 2 arrests, 1 fire, property damage during Michael Brown protest in Berkeley

Protestors chanting about police brutality and the death of Michael Brown marched through Berkeley for several hours Friday night. Photo: A citizen reporter
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Berkeleyside has received reports of a protest moving through the streets of Berkeley, around the UC Berkeley campus and downtown, related to the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed 18-year-old who was fatally shot by police in Missouri last Saturday.

Berkeleyside will seek information from the Berkeley Police Department and update this story when it becomes available. (Scroll down for live updates.)

Watch recorded footage from the protests through Aug. 16 at 12:30 a.m., below, via a participant of the demonstration who identifies himself on Ustream as Treboros, “a citizen journalist in SF East Bay.”

Continue reading »

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Police

Man dies after falling ill at Ashby BART in Berkeley

A man died earlier this week after passing out at the Ashby BART station. Photo: Michael Patrick
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Update, Aug. 15, 4:30 p.m. Authorities have identified the man who died after having health complications at the Ashby BART station Tuesday as 54-year-old Keith Golson of Berkeley.

Original story, Aug. 14, 1 p.m. A man died this week after passing out at the Ashby BART station in South Berkeley, authorities reported Wednesday.

The incident took place just before 11:15 p.m. Tuesday, according to BART.

Tuesday night, the Berkeley Fire Department responded to the west lot of the Ashby BART station for a report of a sick man who had passed out. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley to join National Night Out celebration Tuesday

National Night Out, Aug. 6, 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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More than 50 Berkeley community organizations and neighborhood groups will host block parties Tuesday night as part of a national campaign to foster community spirit and increase awareness about public safety and disaster preparedness.

The events are part of the 31st annual celebration of National Night Out, a program “to heighten crime prevention awareness, generate support for and participation in local anti-crime programs, and strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships,” according to a Berkeley Police Department community message sent in July.

As part of the event, local public safety staff from the police and fire departments, as well as city officials and staff, make the rounds to events scheduled all over town to introduce themselves and connect with the public. Photographs from some of last year’s parties can be seen here on Berkeleyside. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley adopts anti-bias policing policy, commits to collecting data to tackle alleged racial profiling

Police on the sidewalk at La Quinta. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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The Berkeley City Council on Tuesday adopted an anti-bias policing policy with a view to eradicating, or at least reducing, alleged cases of racial profiling by the city’s police. The policy will see the city begin to collect data on police stops to analyze whether incidents of profiling are happening.

Currently, Berkeley Police record data about vehicle stops, but data about other types of contacts — including pedestrians and bicyclists — is not collected unless there is an arrest.

The “Fair and Impartial Policing Policy” has been a year in the making, and was crafted by a committee that included representatives from the Berkeley Police Department working in collaboration with the Police Review Commission, the Peace and Justice Commission, the Coalition for a Safe Berkeley, and the East Bay ACLU. … Continue reading »

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