Tag Archives: Michael Meehan

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 Police Association, the union for the rank and file, has been making the case for officers to have 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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Berkeley asks public for help to create new police beats

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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The Berkeley Police Department is asking the public for input as it analyzes its current staffing resources and reconsiders how it deploys officers around the city.

This week, the city posted a survey online to collect feedback about what kind of services community members want, and what their priorities are.

The main question is not whether the city should hire more officers. But, rather, the city wants to know: Would community members prefer a larger beat that’s always staffed, or a smaller beat that sometimes has no assigned officer? That approach is, perhaps, understandable given the city’s current budget situation, and the fact that even a new officer hired on to the department makes over $100,000 a year once all is said and done. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Robberies rise, but serious crime down overall in 2013

Serious crime reports in Berkeley continue to show a downward trend for the most part. Click the graph to see the full report. Image: Berkeley Police
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Pedestrian robberies, home burglaries, aggravated assaults and vehicle thefts rose in 2013 over the prior year, though the overall number of serious crimes fell, according to new data from the Berkeley Police Department that will be reported to the Berkeley City Council later this month.

Most of the increases were small, with the exception of robbery reports, which rose from 334 in 2012 to 409 in 2013. Auto thefts rose from 639 to 668.

A significant drop in larceny reports, from 4,102 to 3,664, brought the number of overall serious crime reports down from 6,209 in 2012 to 5,890 last year. … Continue reading »

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3 years on, city of Berkeley still stuck on social media

Berkeley student Brandon Coleman, shown here during an interview in January with a local TV station, helped find a missing Berkeley man after the Oakland Police Department used alert service Nixle to inform community members about the case. Berkeley Police do not use Nixle. Photo: Mark Coplan
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Nearly three years after Berkeley city staff said the municipality was working on a social media policy to allow for greater transparency and communication, the city still has virtually no online presence apart from its official website.

In the meantime, surrounding cities have taken up the challenge, particularly in the area of crime fighting, with Oakland, Emeryville and Albany using sites like Twitter, Facebook and alert network Nixle to increase the public trust and share information.

Many other Bay Area law enforcement agencies, including the Alameda County district attorney’s office and the San Francisco office of the FBI, are also using social media to various degrees. That’s because social media is widely considered one of the best ways to reach the public, whether the goal is to share breaking news, crime tips or agency successes. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley slapped with lawsuit over Kayla Moore’s death

Kayla Moore, from Facebook
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Berkeley police used excessive force when attempting to arrest Kayla Moore and declined to give her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation when she stopped breathing because they considered her transgender status as something objectionable, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court Wednesday.

At least one Berkeley Police officer who responded to reports of a disturbance at Moore’s apartment at the Gaia Building on Allston Way on Feb. 13, 2013, referred to Moore as “it,” according to the lawsuit. … Continue reading »

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Police

Vigil, rally mark anniversary of in-custody death

Family members of Kayla Moore say they're still fighting for justice after her death in police custody last year. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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One year after Kayla Moore died during a police investigation into a disturbance at her downtown Berkeley home, family members and supporters are still fighting for what they say are needed changes in how local authorities handle mental health crises throughout the city.

A rally and vigil for Moore are planned Wednesday, Feb. 12, at 6 p.m. at the Gaia Apartments, at 2116 Allston Way, where Moore had lived in the months preceding her death. That event will be followed at 7 p.m. by a “speakout” before the city’s Police Review Commission at the South Berkeley Senior Center, 2939 Ellis St.

Next week, a two-day commission hearing on the circumstances surrounding Moore’s death is expected to conclude with a vote, or votes, related to what happened after police responded to Moore’s home just before midnight Feb. 12, 2013, when a friend of Moore’s, concerned about her mental and physical state, called police for help. Neither the hearing nor its outcome is open to the public because it’s considered a personnel matter, which is protected by confidentiality laws. … Continue reading »

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NAACP raises issues of race discrimination in Berkeley

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A town hall meeting organized by the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) on Sunday, Dec. 8 in Berkeley examined progress on proposals intended to address a range of issues concerning Berkeley’s African-Americans, low-income families and other marginalized communities.

The three most vigorous discussions at the meeting concerned housing, the police and employment. Attendees also expressed concerns about Berkeley’s shrinking black population.

Berkeley police chief Michael Meehan, deputy city manager William Rogers, and Berkeley Housing Authority (BHA) executive director Tia Ingram were among the officials who spoke on Sunday — and weathered a barrage of comment and criticism from questioners. In addition, councilmembers Max Anderson, Daryl Moore and Kriss Worthington attended, as did city manager Christine Daniel.  … Continue reading »

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News

Cukor family settles lawsuit against Berkeley police

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The family of Peter Cukor, who was allegedly killed by a mentally disturbed man in February 2012 while he waited for police to come to his house, has dropped its lawsuit against Berkeley in exchange for promises to change the questions dispatchers ask those calling during an emergency.

Berkeley has not admitted any fault in connection with the tragedy, said R. Lewis Van Blois, who represents Cukor’s widow, Andrea, and her adult sons Alexander and Christopher.

“The changes will result in better communication between the Communication Center and the emergency caller regarding police response to calls,” said Van Blois. … Continue reading »

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Police

City leaders weigh in on idea of Tasers in Berkeley

The Berkeley Police Association, the union for the rank and file, has been making the case for officers to have Tasers. Photo: Creative Commons
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Last week the Berkeley Police Assocation put out a public demand for Tasers for local officers, and Berkeleyside followed up with several questions to city leaders about the issue.

Several leaders declined to comment. Others didn’t respond at all. Most of those who did reply said more research would be needed, and an in-depth conversation would need to take place before any action could be considered.

The association said Berkeley is one of just three Bay Area law enforcement agencies — out of 113 — that isn’t already armed with Tasers or considering their use.

The group said a recent suicide attempt could have been avoided if Berkeley police had Tasers, and also cited a recent officer injury that may well have been avoided too. Not having the tool decreases officer and public safety, said the association, and ends up costing the city money in worker’s comp claims and associated costs. … Continue reading »

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