Tag Archives: Berkeley Police Association

Berkeley police chief says Tasers would help his officers

Police Chief Michael Meehan
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Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan told the Berkeley City Council on Tuesday night he believes his officers should be granted the option to carry Tasers, which are not currently allowed under city policy.

It was the first time Meehan has taken a stand on the issue in a high-profile public forum, though he said he had made similar comments in the past in smaller community meetings.

More than a dozen community members told council that Tasers should not be used in Berkeley, and shared stories from around the country about what they believed were inappropriate uses of the tool by law enforcement officers in other jurisdictions.

Tuesday evening, council received a report from researchers at the Stanford Criminal Justice Center who spent six months earlier this year looking into the issue on a pro bono basis. The researchers said, after reviewing more than 100 studies, that there are still too many unanswered questions about how Tasers are used, and that Berkeley should be cautious when considering whether to equip the local police force with them.

Berkeley is among about 2,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide, out of an estimated 18,000, that do not carry the tool.

Meehan told council that he knows the issue is a controversial one, but made his position on Tasers, also known as electronic control weapons or ECWs, clear.

Read past Berkeleyside coverage related to Tasers.

“The combined body of evidence and decades-­long experience leads me to believe that the availability of ECWs is in the best interests of our employees, and our community,” he said. “I would not say this if I did not think it was in the best interests of both.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley council to hear Taser report Tuesday

The Berkeley City Council will consider asking city staff on May 6 to prepare report on the use of Tasers.   Photo: Creative Commons
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The Berkeley City Council is set to discuss a report Tuesday evening focused on the use of Tasers by law enforcement officers, and whether that might one day be appropriate in Berkeley.

Council asked the city manager to look into the issue last year, which resulted in a pro bono agreement with the Stanford Criminal Justice Center to study it. Two Stanford authors began work on their analysis in January, and completed their report in June.

According to the staff report prepared for Tuesday’s meeting, council asked for more information about “the history, potential benefits, impacts, and possible unintended consequences of allowing Berkeley police to carry and use Tasers, and to include in the report information regarding other jurisdictions ‘best practices’ and protocols, an analysis of changes in technologies, and the feasibility of doing a pilot program.” Council also asked to hear from the Police Review and Community Health commissions.

As far as possible future action, there’s no specific recommendation in the staff report, which notes that council will determine what happens next.  … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Militarization of Berkeley police doesn’t help community safety

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This is an open letter to Chris Stines, President of the Berkeley Police Association, in response to his op-ed, “It should be possible to give police the tools they need while preserving Berkeley’s values,” published on Aug. 31, 2015, by Berkeleyside.

Dear Officer Stines,

Please forgive the people of Berkeley for our lack of enthusiasm about Berkeley Police getting more “tools” with which to beat and “crowd control” us. Don’t take it personally. For many of us, the memories of BPD’s militarized response to … Continue reading »

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Berkeley City Council limits police tear gas use, for now

Moni Law (right) speaks with Cal student Thanh Bercher during Tuesday's council meeting. Both have said they were injured by police Dec. 6 during a protest in Berkeley. Behind them, the line of people waiting to speak to ask council to take action about police discrimination. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to temporarily suspend tear gas use by police as a way to control non-violent crowds.

The vote also suspended the use of other chemical agents, rubber bullets and other projectiles, and over-the-shoulder baton strikes as crowd control methods used by Berkeley officers during non-violent protests. The temporary policy will remain in place until an investigation by the city’s Police Review Commission into protests in Berkeley last December is complete.

Read more Berkeley protests coverage on Berkeleyside.

The item, put forward by Councilman Jesse Arreguín, was part of package of protest-related decisions council made Tuesday night. Council also voted to support the Police Review Commission’s investigation, as well as demands by the national group “Ferguson Action” regarding efforts to curtail unfair treatment by police of people of color.

Dozens of people, including many local students, marched through the city before the council meeting, and flooded into council chambers to testify about the need for police accountability, and about why they felt action is needed. … Continue reading »

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Grumpy Cat comes to Berkeley Humane in style, fanfare

Grumpy Cat, held by her owner Tabatha Bundesen, poses with City Councilmember Linda Maio and Berkeley Chamber of Commerce CEO Polly Armstrong before the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Photo: Seung Y. Lee
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With a police-escorted motorcade fit for a foreign ambassador or an A-list Hollywood star, viral internet star Grumpy Cat rolled into Berkeley in style Saturday afternoon.

Hundreds of fans waited outside Berkeley Humane at 2700 9th St. to catch a glimpse of Grumpy Cat, who has a permanent scowl on her face and millions of fans on social media. Tucked in the arms of her owner, Tabatha Bundesen, Grumpy Cat oversaw the ribbon-cutting ceremony of Berkeley Humane’s new mobile adoption center.

Following the ceremony, Grumpy Cat held a private photo session with her fans. Tickets for an up close and personal were reserved long before Saturday. The opportunity to take a photo of Grumpy Cat — or with, for the lucky fans who registered for the photo session in time — drew residents from beyond the Bay Area. … Continue reading »

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Viral internet star Grumpy Cat comes to Berkeley

Grumpy Cat, the feline internet sensation, will be visiting Berkeley Humane this Saturday. Photo: Scott Beale/ Creative Commons
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Grumpy Cat, the cantankerous cat with a permanent scowl and more than 7 million Facebook likes, will grace Berkeley with her presence for the first time this Saturday afternoon.

Arguably the most famous cat on the internet, Grumpy Cat will be present for Berkeley Humane‘s ribbon-cutting ceremony of the new mobile animal adoption center at 2700 Ninth St. at noon. After the ceremony, Grumpy Cat will have a private photo session with her fans at 1 p.m. The event has already sold out.

After Grumpy Cat challenged her fans with a #GrumpyTownUSA contest following the launch of her second book “The Grumpy Guide to Life” (both books are New York Times bestsellers), Berkeley Humane led a campaign with support from Mayor Tom Bates, the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce and the Berkeley Police Association to bring Grumpy Cat to Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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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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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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Surveillance camera registry a possibility for police

Some city officials would like to residents and business owners to be able to put their security camera locations in a database for police. Photo: Mike Mozart
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The city of Berkeley will explore whether a database of private security cameras might help police solve crime more efficiently after a Berkeley City Council majority vote Tuesday night.

Under the proposal, citizens could report camera locations to the Berkeley Police Department. Police would create a registry, which would allow officers to call camera owners quickly should a crime take place. Citizens would not be required to talk to police, and officers would not have instant access to the footage.

Council members Gordon Wozniak and Susan Wengraf, who asked in their proposal for the city manager to study the issue, said it is clear to anyone reading the weekly crime round-up on this website exactly how much crime takes place in Berkeley and where it happens. … Continue reading »

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Police rescue 2 men from I-80 overpass fire in Berkeley

Two people were rescued by Berkeley police from the fire that erupted
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Berkeley Police officers rescued two people from the fire that erupted under the University Avenue Interstate 80 overpass Wednesday. The quick actions of three officers who were first on the scene may have saved the lives of two men trapped in the burning storage enclosure, according to the Berkeley Police Association.

At around 2:45 p.m. Wednesday, Berkeley Police Lt. Andrew Rateaver “noticed the fire” and called for emergency back-up, the association reported. His calls for help were immediately answered by two Berkeley Police Special Victims Unit detectives who were conducting an interview nearby.

They went to the scene of the fire that was raging in a Caltrans storage area containing around 100 Ecology Center recycling cans leased by the city of Berkeley, according to authorities.

“I could hear a man screaming and he was locked inside a chain link fence where the fire was roaring out of control,” said Detective Melissa Kelly, one of the officers who hurried to the scene, assisted by Detective Ana Baber. “We couldn’t get the gate open and had to reach under the fence to rescue the man and get him away from the burning fire.” … Continue reading »

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City of Berkeley seeks source of leaked confidential info

City Manager Christine Daniel, leaving for the deputy position in Oakland. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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The city of Berkeley is on the hunt to determine who released private police personnel documents related to a confidential investigation — into an in-custody death involving local officers last year — to UC Berkeley’s Daily Californian newspaper.

Thursday evening, Berkeley city manager Christine Daniel notified the mayor and council members about the leak, which she described to them via email as “an unfortunate and concerning event that occurred regarding confidential police personnel information.”

Daniel wrote that the Daily Cal had told the city it had gotten “confidential personnel-specific findings” from the Police Review Commission’s inquest into the in-custody death of Kayla Moore last year. (Moore’s family has filed a lawsuit against the city over that fatality.)

According to a letter from an attorney representing the Berkeley Police Association (BPA) — the union for local officers — the release of that information is a criminal offense. Attorney Harry Stern, of Rains Lucia Stern, wrote also that the Police Review Commission (PRC) could be subject to civil liability “for this invasion of privacy and defamation.” … Continue reading »

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Taser report: Tool could save Berkeley millions, decrease use of force, but oversight and training would be key

The Berkeley City Council will consider asking city staff on May 6 to prepare report on the use of Tasers.   Photo: Creative Commons
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Berkeley officials plan to consider in early May whether to take their first deep look at whether the city’s police officers should be allowed to carry Tasers.

But it won’t exactly be the first time the issue has been studied by the city. A lengthy report — obtained via a Public Records Act request from Berkeleyside to the Berkeley Police Department — took a look in 2011 at potential costs and benefits tied to Taser use, but the report was never publicly distributed or shared with council members, and did not prompt any action within the Police Department.

According to the comprehensive report, which was completed as part of a master’s degree in public policy by a then-UC Berkeley student and former UC Berkeley police officer, the city could save millions of dollars and, potentially, save lives if the city made the investment in Tasers.

But the report also looks closely at reported risks associated with Taser use, particularly in terms of medical problems that have been linked to stun gun shocks, as well as financial liabilities. … Continue reading »

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Councilmen: Time is now to discuss Tasers in Berkeley

Councilman Laurie Capitelli. March 5, 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Three Berkeley City Council members are bringing the issue of Taser use by local police to the forefront with a proposed council agenda item currently set for consideration in early May.

Councilman Laurie Capitelli has drafted an item to request a report from the city manager about the possible use of Tasers by police in Berkeley, along with consideration of the idea by the city’s Police Review Commission.

Capitelli said it was last week’s violent attack on a Berkeley Police officer at Aquatic Park that brought about the current proposal. A man has been charged with attempted murder in that case. … Continue reading »

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