Tag Archives: Michael Meehan

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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Berkeley Police crime alert experiment underway

Berkeley Police logo
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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 »

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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
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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 »

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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
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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 »

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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
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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 »

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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
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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.
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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
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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 »

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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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Drone battle to come before Berkeley City Council

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

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Police call for Tasers after attempted killing of officer

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 president of the Berkeley Police Association is asking city officials to consider the use of Tasers by Berkeley officers after a violent attack on an officer Monday.

The police association, the union for the rank and file, has been asking publicly for Tasers since at least last year. According to association president Sgt. Chris Stines, 95% of California’s law enforcement agencies use Tasers, but Berkeley is not among them.

Last fall, after a man tried to stab himself to death in Berkeley, Stines said officers with Tasers would have been able to resolve that situation with less injury. Since then, Stines said this week, there have been at least four other incidents, including Monday’s attack, in which Tasers would have made a difference. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley to launch Nixle crime alerts for phone, email

Berkeley police officer Stephen Burcham presents 10-year-old Brandon Coleman with a certificate. Photo: Mark Coplan
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The city of Berkeley is kicking off its first foray into social media communication with a six-month pilot program to let police officers send crime and safety alerts directly to the public, city staff announced Monday night.

City staff has been saying since 2011 that plans to explore social media usage, and develop a policy to govern its use, are in the works. As of this week, there’s finally something to show for it.

Beginning May 1, Berkeley Police officers will be able to use online alert network Nixle to send out a variety of information concerning anything from missing people or wanted suspects to road closures and other advisories.

City spokesman Matthai Chakko announced the pilot program to a group of about 60 community members who attended a neighborhood watch-type meeting with police Monday night. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley officials: Social media ‘critical’ for transparency

Councilmen Gordon Wozniak and Jesse Arreguín are pushing for more transparency from Berkeley's city manager. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Two members of the Berkeley City Council are pushing the city manager to come up with a concrete plan about how city staff will use social media, via a consent calendar item on Tuesday night’s council agenda.

City staff said in February that a social media policy is in the works. Berkeleyside took a look at the issue that month to follow up on promises from the city in 2011 that the social media policy was in development.

Councilmen Jesse Arreguín and Gordon Wozniak cited Berkeleyside’s article in their April 1 agenda item, in which they direct city manager Christine Daniel to make a report to council on staff efforts to create the policy, and come up with a plan for the use of social media by city departments.

Arreguín and Wozniak said it is “critical” for the city to “move ahead in adopting a social media policy and implementing the use of social media by the Berkeley Police Department, Public Works and other city departments,” particularly because the city is a university town with a large number of residents who use social media “as a primary means of communication.” … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeley Police on 3 recent shootings: ‘Responding to these incidents is our top priority’

Berkeley Police have responded to three shootings this week. Image: Google Maps
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Three shootings in Berkeley since last weekend have raised safety concerns around town, and police area coordinators have been using their email lists to ask for cooperation and assure residents that the incidents are under investigation.

Two shootings took place on Harmon Street in South Berkeley, on Saturday and Monday, and the third incident took place on Bonar Street in West Berkeley on Tuesday night. Two teenagers were shot in the second Harmon Street incident, but were said to have non-life-threatening injuries. No other injuries were reported, and there have been no arrests reported.

South Berkeley area coordinator Officer Stephanie Polizziani told community members on her email list Thursday that Berkeley Police “detectives and patrol officers are working night and day following up on any leads that come their way to ensure the community’s safety.” … Continue reading »

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