Category Archives: Police

Berkeley taxpayers pick up the tab to send police officers to out-of-state funerals

The Police Department’s Honor Guard was in attendance, in new uniforms recently purchased by the department. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Print Friendly

Berkeley taxpayers picked up much of the bill for two police officers to fly to New York City in January to attend the funeral of an officer who had been killed in the line of duty, according to an investigation by the Oakland Tribune.

Berkeley paid $850.60 for lodging and meals for the trip, plus 40 hours of paid work time, according to the Tribune. JetBlue provided free plane tickets.

Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan justified the expense to the Tribune, saying it boosts morale for police officers from one jurisdiction to show their support for officers in other cities who have been killed.  … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , ,

Berkeley neighbors take on ‘noisy and drunken parties’

A student is taken care of by BFD. Image: ABC 7’s I-Team
Print Friendly

Dozens of concerned neighbors met Monday night at the Berkeley Police Department to strategize about how to cut down on “noisy and drunken disturbances,” particularly in Berkeley’s Southside neighborhood.

The city of Berkeley is working on an ordinance to try to curtail problematic behavior, which has at times taxed the city’s emergency services and overwhelmed its main emergency room. The ordinance has been scheduled twice to come before the Berkeley City Council in recent weeks, but has now been delayed for consideration until the fall to allow stakeholders in the university community to weigh in.

In the interim, the Berkeley Safe Neighborhoods Committee — which hosted Monday night’s meeting — is bringing local residents into the discussion. At the end of the meeting, attendees agreed to form a working group to try to ensure that their views and input are part of the city process.

Jim Hynes, assistant to Berkeley’s city manager, told the group of about 30 that the city decided to consider expanding existing laws about mini-dorms to all group living accommodations following media attention to the issue, as well as concerns expressed by the Alta Bates emergency room.

“There were weekends where 50-75% of their emergency beds were filled with drunk students,” he said, forcing the hospital to divert other incoming patients to Highland and Summit hospitals in Oakland. “There were times when they couldn’t divert, and had to set up, essentially, disaster triage areas for drunk students.” … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Berkeley police report first pepper spray use of 2015

Image: Google maps
Print Friendly

A Berkeley Police officer used pepper spray to subdue a naked man covered with blood who wielded a glass shard and charged a firefighter in late March, according to a document posted on the city website Friday.

Police must complete a brief form — which is made public — any time officers use pepper spray, as directed by a Berkeley City Council vote in 1997 (which also prohibited the use of pepper spray as a crowd control technique). The Berkeley Police Department is supposed to inform council and the city’s Police Review Commission about the use of pepper spray within seven days.

Under the department’s regulations governing use of force, “reasonable force” may be used to make an arrest, prevent an escape, overcome resistance or maintain order. Anytime pepper spray is used, officers must complete a form summarizing its use, and pass that form on to the division commander, who ultimately turns it over to the chief of police.

According to the April 15 report, a man pulled a fire alarm March 28 on Haste Street at 11:19 a.m. He also discharged a fire extinguisher, pulled a main water valve, emptied water from the sprinklers and broke out a 4-foot-by-3-foot window on the fourth floor of the building, according to the recent report. The man charged a firefighter responding to the scene, and the firefighter called for back-up. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , ,
Police

Pedestrian seriously injured after Berkeley crash

Traffic is backed up after a serious accident on Telegraph and Ashby. Image: Google Maps
Print Friendly

Update, May 21, 3 p.m. Police determined that the primary collision factor in this crash was a right-of-way violation by the Volvo driver, who failed to yield to the pedestrian in the crosswalk.

Update, April 16, 5:45 p.m. Police released additional information about the crash in a Nixle alert at 5:35 p.m.

According to police, there was a report of an injury collision at Telegraph and Ashby avenues at 3:18 p.m. that possibly involved a semi-truck and pedestrian.

According to the preliminary investigation, a driver in a Volvo station wagon heading north on Telegraph was turning right onto Ashby when he struck a female pedestrian.

“While making his turn … the driver may have hit the accelerator and not the brake, causing the vehicle to go into the intersection as a panel truck was traveling east on Ashby. The Volvo then hit the side of the truck as it passed,” police wrote. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Mental health calls #1 drain on Berkeley police resources

Thirty-five percent of calls to the Berkeley Police Department are for people who are having a mental health crisis. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Print Friendly

Responding to people with mental health issues is the number one drain on police resources in Berkeley, a police officer who specializes in the topic said this week.

Nationally, 10% of police calls are for people having a mental health crisis, according to Berkeley Police Officer Jeff Shannon. In Berkeley, that number is 35% or more. Over the past five years, police have seen a 43% increase in calls for “5150s,” or people who are a danger to themselves or others, he said.

“Not only in Berkeley, but across the nation, we are experiencing a mental health crisis,” Shannon told members of the Berkeley Safe Neighborhoods Committee on Monday. “We are seeing way more people who are sick, way more people who are in crisis, who need help, than we have capacity.” … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

BART promotes suicide prevention line as incidents spike

Mental health advocate Kevin Hines speaks in front of the new BART signage listing the Suicide Lifeline Number. Photo: Seung Y. Lee
Print Friendly

BART hosted a press conference in its downtown Berkeley station Tuesday to announce a new campaign to combat a recent spike in suicides on its train tracks. By mid-March, there had already been six crashes and five fatalities, the agency reported.

Last year, there were 14 crashes involving BART, including several incidents at the North Berkeley and downtown Berkeley stations. One incident in downtown Berkeley in November — the eighth and final BART-related fatality of 2014 — killed a UC Berkeley student. In 2013, there were six crashes, five of which were fatal.

The main feature of the campaign is station signage promoting the toll-free National Suicide Lifeline, alerting possible troubled patrons that “suicide is not the route.” The number, 800-273-TALK, directs callers to around-the-clock free, confidential counseling from suicide prevention centers in Alameda, Contra Costa and San Francisco counties.  … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , ,
Police

Berkeley police captain to become Benicia chief

Capt. Erik Upson. Photo: Berkeley Police
Print Friendly

After 17 years with the Berkeley Police Department, Capt. Erik Upson has been selected to run police services in Benicia beginning later this month.

Upson announced the move internally Monday, and the city of Benicia followed up with an official statement Tuesday. He is set to begin his new job as Benicia’s police chief April 20.

“He is everybody’s ideal cop,” said former Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean, who has worked closely with Upson on the Berkeley Safe Neighborhood Committee, a community umbrella group for neighborhood watch-type efforts.

Dean said she always knew Upson to be a good listener, who would take community concerns to heart, and had the persistency to move issues forward: “Benicia is lucky to have him,” Dean said.

Benicia City Manager Brad Kilger, in a prepared statement, described the search for his city’s new police chief as extensive: “Erik clearly rose to the top of the class. The City of Benicia is very fortunate to hire someone … who not only has exceptional technical skills and leadership qualities, but is also highly praised by all those who have worked for him and with him.” … Continue reading »

Tagged , , ,

Carol Berry, Berkeley’s first female patrol officer

Carol Ann Berry
Print Friendly

Carol Ann Berry, the first woman to work patrol for the Berkeley Police Department, and a beloved wife, mother, and grandmother, passed away at home surrounded by her loving family on March 7, 2015. She was 66.

Carol was born in Oakland on Oct. 7, 1948, the daughter of the late Warren Becton and Ernestine (Johnson) Becton. She was the second of three daughters.

Carol received her education in Oakland public schools, graduating from Castlemont High School. Carol received her … Continue reading »

Tagged ,

CHP seeks driver who fled after Berkeley crash injures 5

A crash on I-80 earlier this week sent five people to the hospital. Photo: Don Melandry
Print Friendly

The California Highway Patrol is looking for a driver who caused a crash on the freeway in Berkeley earlier this week that overturned his vehicle and sent three children and two adults to the hospital.

According to Deputy Berkeley Fire Chief Avery Webb, three vehicles were significantly damaged in the four-car collision. Westbound Interstate 80 was shut down for 10-15 minutes during the initial emergency response.

The crash took place Wednesday at 1:20 p.m., said Oakland CHP spokesman Officer Sean Wilkenfeld. A caller reported a collision on westbound Interstate 80 at University Avenue in Berkeley.

Wilkenfeld said the suspect’s 2015 Jeep Patriot, a rental car, rear ended a 1996 Honda Accord driven by a 32-year-old Oakland woman, causing the Jeep to overturn. There were three children — ages 2, 4 and 11 — in the Honda. They were taken to the hospital with minor injuries. The Honda’s driver also was taken by ambulance to the hospital for treatment. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , ,

Caldecott Tunnel bore re-opens after car collision, fire

Caldecott tunnel fire 3.16.15. Photo: CHP
Print Friendly

The eastbound, right-hand bore of the Caldecott Tunnel re-opened at around 11:15 this morning after being investigated for damage following a collision and subsequent vehicle fire that forced its closure.

The accident, which happened around 6:45 a.m. in heavy commuting traffic, prompted authorities to evacuate several dozen drivers by foot and caused significant traffic back-ups in the surrounding area.

CHP was already on the scene of an earlier traffic accident at 6:20 a.m., which had occurred on eastbound SR-24 inside the Caldecott tunnel, when they heard about a second incident. “Officers had cleared that collision and were on the Fish Ranch Road off-ramp when a citizen stopped to report an additional collision had occurred inside the tunnel,” CHP reported in a press release at 10:20 a.m. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , ,

Berkeley Police work on neighborhood staging guidelines

Police from other jurisdictions provided mutual aid to the Berkeley Police Department during recent protests, and set up on McKinley Ave. Photo by
Print Friendly

In response to criticism about how they treated residents on McKinley Avenue in December, the Berkeley Police Department is working to establish a new set of rules for commandeering a neighborhood during large-scale protests or events.

Berkeley Police Captain Andrew Greenwood presented a proposed set of guidelines to the Police Review Commission on Wednesday night. He also apologized again for the manner in which police treated residents on McKinley Avenue, which is located right behind the Berkeley police department’s HQ, during the December “Black Lives Matter” protests.

“By failing to communicate with the neighbors ahead of time we caused a very bad situation for them,” said Greenwood. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , ,

Berkeley set to require surveillance video at liquor stores

Bing's Liquor
Print Friendly

Two young men were shot and killed near Bing’s Liquors store on San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley in 2013. The homicides contributed to a recommendation this week that liquor stores in certain commercial areas of the city install or upgrade their surveillance systems within the next six months.

In the report that was given a first approval by the Berkeley City Council on Tuesday, police identified the areas of concern as downtown, University Avenue, Telegraph Avenue, San Pablo Avenue, north Shattuck Avenue, and Shattuck and Adeline.

Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan, who submitted the recommendation, said many liquor stores in the city already have video surveillance cameras. However they are not always maintained and there are inconsistencies in the type of systems used. He said a typical case might see the son at a family-owned business being the only one who knows how to operate the camera.

The new ordinance would see police officers help all the relevant liquor stores get compatible digital equipment that is in working order, he said, speaking at a special session in which the police presented their 2014 Crime Report.  … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , ,

BART Police tower in North Berkeley prompts questions

Photo: Heidi Sachs
Print Friendly

When a slightly wonky-looking tower with a look-out cab on the top recently appeared in the parking lot of the North Berkeley BART station, local residents started asking questions. What was it for? How did anyone get into that cab anyway? Was it about to fall over?

It all began when Heidi Sachs sent us the above photo which we posted on Berkeleyside’s Facebook page. It prompted some enlightening comments.

We also checked in with BART who gave us the lowdown: the tower is called a SkyWatch trailer. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , ,