Tag Archives: Michael Meehan

Determined crowd demands fast action from Berkeley council; officials set meeting on protests for January

The crowd at Tuesday night's Berkeley council meeting listened closely to public testimony. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Print Friendly

An emotional crowd nearly shut down the Berkeley City Council multiple times Tuesday night during a public comment period that lasted the better part of four hours.

About 50 people spoke to council — and many more were in attendance — to share concerns about racial profiling as well as the actions of police on Saturday, Dec. 6, when officers used tear gas, projectiles and baton hits to control and clear a crowd that refused to disperse from Telegraph Avenue after several hours of demonstrations around the city.

Council members considered but rejected the possibility of scheduling a special meeting this month to discuss the events of Dec. 6, and how police should interact with protesters going forward.

See complete Berkeleyside coverage of the recent Berkeley protests.

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates announced that council will hold a special meeting Jan. 17 that’s set to include a panel of experts as well as workshops for more interactive discussion of critical issues. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Police Review Commission asks for suspension of tear gas

A line of police officers marched down Telegraph Avenue during the Dec. 6th protests. Photo: Pete Rosos
Print Friendly

After hearing the testimony of about 10 people who said they were treated unnecessarily roughly during a Dec. 6 protest, the Police Review Commission voted Wednesday to ask Berkeley city officials to restrict the use of tear gas, over-the-shoulder baton hits and firing projectiles as a form of crowd control.

The PRC, which put the issue on its agenda as an emergency measure, is hoping the Berkeley City Council will do the same at its meeting Tuesday, Dec. 16.

Read more coverage of the recent protests in Berkeley.

“Our proposal was for a cooling-off period,” said Alison Bernstein, vice chair of the PRC. “[Using tear gas] is a crowd control technique. We’re not saying it’s right. We’re not saying it’s wrong. But we are hearing serious concerns from the community.” … Continue reading »

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

2 officials demand investigation into police tear gas use in Berkeley protest Saturday

City Council members Jesse Arreguín and Kriss Worthington told a crowd of protesters yesterday that they want an investigation into the use of tear gas by police. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
Print Friendly

Hours after Berkeley’s police chief defended his department’s decision to use tear gas on protesters on Telegraph Avenue on Saturday, Dec. 6, two Berkeley City Council members called for an investigation into what they said were police excesses.

Kriss Worthington and Jesse Arreguín made that call on the steps of Old City Hall shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday. Normally, the two would have been inside the building for the regular council meeting, but Mayor Tom Bates had canceled the meeting earlier in the day, expressing concern that it would be swamped with hundreds or thousands of protesters. Bates said he plans to reschedule the meeting soon.

Speaking through a megaphone to a crowd of more than 200 people that had gathered as part of the fourth night of protest against police killings of and violence against black men, Worthington said Berkeley police had used their batons Saturday to hit students, members of the clergy, journalists and others.

“I am embarrassed that Berkeley police would attack our constituents,” he said. “We will demand an investigation. … We will demand reforms of the way the police operate in the entire city of Berkeley.” … Continue reading »

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

Violent crime reports down 44% in Berkeley

The 2014 mid-year crime report. Image: Berkeley Police Department
Print Friendly

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 »

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Berkeley assault leaves man in critical condition

Police discovered a man who had been beaten with a baseball bat at 2020 Durant on Friday morning. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
Print Friendly

A violent assault in a senior living complex in downtown Berkeley on Friday morning left a man in critical condition, according to authorities. Berkeleyside broke the story, then updated it as we gathered new information.

Update, Sept. 9, 4:15 p.m. Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats said, as far as she knows, the 72-year-old man who was beaten remains in the hospital. Coats also confirmed that 69-year-old Lawrence Landis was arrested in connection with the assault. He was charged with attempted murder with enhancements for causing great bodily injury on the elderly and the use of a weapon during the commission of a felony.

Update, Aug. 30, 4:15 p.m. The man who was assaulted in Berkeley early Friday morning is still alive and has emerged from a coma, said Berkeley Police Lt. Dave Frankel.

Update, 10:20 a.m. Scanner audio recordings from Friday morning reveal that shortly before 1 a.m., Berkeley police were called to 2020 Durant Ave., near Milvia Street, after receiving multiple reports that a man was “yelling and screaming,” according to the recordings. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , ,

Berkeley Police crime alert experiment underway

Berkeley Police logo
Print Friendly

A pilot program by the Berkeley Police Department to send out email and text alerts using a web-based service called Nixle has been live for about two weeks.

Nearly 2,000 people have signed up for the service, and the Police Department has sent out eight notices since the launch of the program May 1.

The city of Berkeley has been slow to embrace social media, and the Police Department’s use of Nixle has been described as a step in that direction.

For the most part, the city is still offline as far as the major social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook. But the Nixle experiment has provided a centralized way for residents to sign up for public safety alerts, and gives police staff the ability to send out notices quickly when the need to communicate arises. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Berkeley Police beats could get much bigger

he city is looking at this 11-beat alternative map for Berkeley Police, along with two other options. Adjustments will continue to be made over the next month in response to public feedback, officials say. Graphic: Matrix Consulting Group
Print Friendly

A handful of community members got a preview Tuesday night of three possible alternatives for a new Berkeley Police beat map, which ultimately will determine how officers are deployed around the city. Bigger beats and the potential creation of a small “flex unit” to address hot spots or crime trends are among the ideas under consideration, which are still in draft form.

Citing tight budgets and limited staffing, police undertook an analysis of several new ways to assign officers around town. The city of Berkeley, working with Mountain View-based Matrix Consulting Group, has been collecting input about police services via an online survey and, starting this week, in open meetings.

(Upcoming sessions with the consultant, police staff and council members are planned for Thursday, May 15, and June 4, with several others still to be scheduled.) … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

2 meetings this week on Berkeley police beat changes

The Berkeley Police Department has used the same beat map since 1993, and the city is looking into how to adjust it. (Click to view larger.) Image: Berkeley Police
Print Friendly

Three council members are holding meetings this week to collect public feedback about proposed police beat changes in Berkeley.

Given current staffing levels, which are at historic lows, police are looking at whether to make beats larger or to have some beats that are staffed less often. Berkeleyside wrote about the proposal in depth in March.

The city has hired Mountain View-based Matrix Consulting Group to help oversee the public process and create a strategy for police staffing going forward.

As part of that process, which will include Berkeley City Council review in coming months, council members have been asked to hold meetings in their districts to explain the process and hear from the community. Two of those meetings — for residents of districts 2, 5 and 6 — have been scheduled for this week. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Community comes out for NAACP forum on alleged racial profiling by police in Berkeley

The father of Kayla Moore, who died in police custody last year, was one of many community members to attend a forum May 10 about perceived racial profiling by the Berkeley Police Department. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Print Friendly

More than 100 community members turned out to the Berkeley Public Library over the weekend to share or hear stories about what they believe is on-going racial profiling and harassment of minorities in Berkeley by local police officers.

The Berkeley NAACP organized the standing-room-only event, entitled “Berkeley Police – Power & Abuse,” at the south branch of the library Saturday afternoon.

Local residents, and representatives from the Berkeley NAACP and the Berkeley/North East Bay Chapter of the ACLU, took turns describing experiences they have had, or heard about, with the Berkeley Police Department. (Police were not invited to attend the session, Police Chief Michael Meehan said last week.)

A member of Berkeley’s Peace & Justice Commission, George Lippman, also informed attendees about a proposal approved in March by the Police Review Commission under which officers would report demographic data for police stops in a format that would be available for public review. That recommendation would allow the community to assess who is getting stopped and, according to advocates, discourage officers from paying unfair attention to any particular group.  … Continue reading »

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

Berkeley Police stop sparks racial controversy

The arrest of two people in Berkeley last Friday has prompted charges from some about racial profiling. Scroll down to view a video of the arrest. Image: Kerby L/YouTube
Print Friendly

A recent police stop in Berkeley has prompted some community members to criticize police for racial insensitivity, and potential racial profiling.

Part of the exchange was captured on video, which appears below. The footage was posted on YouTube less than a week ago by one of the women who was stopped, and has been viewed nearly 8,000 times.

Berkeley Police officials said Thursday that the video has been taken out of context, and showed restraint by officers who were antagonized while trying to detain a group of pedestrians who nearly caused a traffic accident near Telegraph Avenue on Friday night.

In response to general questions raised during the course of the footage, police said officers are not required to inform someone prior to handcuffing them; do not have to read Miranda rights for adults until someone is in custody and being questioned about an alleged offense; and are not required to tell other individuals at an active scene why someone is being arrested.
Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Drone technology in Berkeley may see further study

Advocates calling to make Berkeley a "no drone zone" set up in front of Tuesday night's council meeting to spread the word. Photo: mary mad
Print Friendly

Tuesday evening, the Berkeley City Council delved into the sticky issue of drone regulation, and plans to take an even deeper look at the related ramifications at some point in the future.

The council held a special work session — with no action planned, and none taken — to hear from three city panels that considered drone technology after local officials asked them to offer feedback on it in late 2012.

Two of those bodies came out in support of making Berkeley a “no drone zone,” while the third said drones should be available for the city to use in case of emergency with appropriate oversight. … Continue reading »

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

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
Print Friendly

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 »

Tagged , , , , , ,

Drone battle to come before Berkeley City Council

Two quadricopter drones, typical of the designs popular with hobbyists. Photo: Gregor Hartl/Ars Electronica
Print Friendly

More than a year after the Berkeley City Council asked three city panels to take a look at the use of drones around town, two starkly different recommendations are slated to come before officials in a special work session later this month.

The city’s Disaster and Fire Safety Commission has made a recommendation to allow the police and fire departments to use drones “for specific enumerated purposes in emergency situations.” Usage would have to approved by the city manager, police chief or fire chief.

But two other city bodies, the Peace & Justice Commission and the Police Review Commission, have asked council to declare Berkeley a “no drone zone,” citing concerns related to safety and privacy, among other issues. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , ,