Tag Archives: Michael Meehan

Council: No drones for Berkeley police for 1 year

A drone spotted in Berkeley last October. Photo: William Newton
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The Berkeley City Council voted last week to enact a one-year moratorium on the use or acquisition of drones by the Berkeley Police Department.

The Feb. 24 vote came despite the fact that the department had no plans to get or use a drone.

“We don’t own a drone. We have no budget for drones. We have no plan to buy a drone,” said Police Chief Michael Meehan on Friday. “It’s not on our radar.”

Read more about drones in Berkeley.

Council voted Tuesday to allow the Berkeley Fire Department to use drones in disaster response efforts. But officials, for the most part, said they are not comfortable with police using drones for law enforcement purposes until the city hashes out a policy on the subject. As part of last week’s vote, they pledged to work on that policy at some point in the future.

The vote Tuesday does not affect privately-owned drones in Berkeley.  … Continue reading »

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Police release redacted reports on Berkeley protests

After denying a Public Records Act request from a local police watchdog group, the department responded with heavily redacted documents.
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The Berkeley Police Department has released two operational plans about protests in the city Dec. 6-7, but most of the wording was blacked out and redacted, so minimal information was revealed.

Andrea Prichett, co-founder of Berkeley Copwatch, requested the documents as part of two Public Records Act requests in December and January. The police department initially said the plans were exempt from release. In response to a second request from Prichett, the department provided the plans, but removed information it said related to security procedures and intelligence information.

According to a police department letter to Prichett on Jan. 26, “The disclosure of such documents could endanger public and officer safety and impede the success of future operations. Additionally, the operational plans and related documents are exempt under the ‘deliberative process privilege’ of Government Code 6255 because disclosure could have a chilling effect on the ability of the department and its command staff to candidly discuss, plan for, and respond to events requiring crowd control that are often fluid in nature.”

Read complete Berkeley protests coverage on Berkeleyside.

Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan has said the department is working on its own comprehensive report about the protests. Meehan told the city’s Police Review Commission in January that the report would be released later this year, “in an un-redacted fashion so everybody will have a chance to read what we knew when we knew it, and what we believe can be done differently in the future to hopefully end up with a different result.”

The two documents released to Prichett — who shared them with Berkeleyside — came in a very different form, however. In a 13-page “Incident Briefing” about a march planned for Dec. 6, 2014, about eight of the pages were blacked out. The department left visible the names of officers who had leadership roles, including Capt. Erik Upson, who was the incident commander that night, a summary regarding known plans that had been posted on social media about the Dec. 6 demonstration, and a general two-paragraph mission statement about how it would handle crowd control. … Continue reading »

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Citizen panel on police to launch Berkeley protests probe

Police Review Commission, Jan. 14, 2015. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Last week, Berkeley’s Police Review Commission voted unanimously to launch an investigation into the police response to protests over the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown that halted business as usual in Berkeley in December.

Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan told the citizen oversight panel during its Jan. 14 meeting that his department is working diligently on its own review of the protests, which is set to be complete within the next few months. Meehan said an officer, a sergeant and a lieutenant are working on the report “nonstop,” full time — as of earlier this month — under the direction of Berkeley Police Capt. Cynthia Harris.

“This is not going to be something that will sit around for six months and then nobody will ever see it,” Meehan told the PRC. “When it is complete, it will be made public in an un-redacted fashion so everybody will have a chance to read what we knew when we knew it, and what we believe can be done differently in the future to hopefully end up with a different result.”

Read complete Berkeley protests coverage on Berkeleyside.

Instead of waiting for that report’s findings, the commission voted to begin its own probe into why police used tear gas and other force on protesters Dec. 6, along with several other issues that have been raised as concerns by some community members over the past month. Commission Vice Chair George Perezvelez said the community might think the PRC was shirking its duties if it failed to take prompt action.

“Our own investigation is independent from theirs,” he told his fellow commissioners. “As good as all that information will do us, it just doesn’t sound like our process.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley town hall examines race, police relations

About 200 people attended a special Berkeley City Council meeting on Jan. 17, 2015 to talk about police and community issues. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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More than five weeks after Berkeley police used tear gas, smoke bombs, and over the shoulder baton strikes to control a crowd protesting the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, the City Council held a meeting Saturday to examine community relations with police.

More than 200 people gathered in the atrium of the Ed Roberts campus for a five-hour town hall meeting, some holding up signs with “Black Lives Matter,” and “Stop racial profiling! BPD come clean.” While some of the public testimony concerned police actions Dec. 6, the first night of a weeklong series of demonstrations in Berkeley, much of the talk touched on the broader societal ills that have affected African-Americans.

From a panel of experts that included professors from UC Berkeley to Sheila Quintana, the principal of Berkeley Technical Academy, to a host of politicians including Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson and Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, to long-time residents of Berkeley, those in attendance focused on issues of race, jobs, affordable housing, and equitable education as pressing issues that must be addressed immediately.

“Police brutality and the killing of black bodies is horrific, however it is only a part of the problem that affects the relationship between the police and the black community,” Barbara White, a member of the Berkeley chapter of the NAACP testified in front of the council. “Structural and institutionalized racism and white privilege is at the root of the dehumanization of black people.” … Continue reading »

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Residents air concerns about police staging to Police Review Commission

During the Dec. 6 protests, Berkeley police commandeered McKinley St. to set up a staging area for mutual aid from other departments. This is a photo of a Hayward Police Department van parked on the street. Photo by
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Members of the Police Review Commission expressed concern Wednesday night over policy complaints filed by two residents of the 2100 block of McKinley Avenue describing how their street was blocked off, taken over, and used as a police staging area for five days in early December during demonstrations in Berkeley.

The controversial take-over prompted Police Chief Michael Meehan to attend the PRC meeting and pledge that his department would develop a policy to ensure that a similar situation doesn’t happen again.

Read complete Berkeley protests coverage on Berkeleyside.

“We’ve been looking at a lot of different strategies on how we can make sure this does not happen again in the future,” said Meehan. … Continue reading »

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Police

Berkeley Police Q&A: Tear gas use, protest costs, more

Photo, taken on Dec. 6, 2014, by Pete Rosos
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On Dec. 6, the first night in a wave of demonstrations in Berkeley related to the police-involved deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, Berkeley Police officers used tear gas to disperse crowds on Telegraph Avenue. Many individuals involved with that first night’s protest said the use of force, which also involved baton strikes and less-lethal projectiles, was unwarranted. Police said officers only took those steps after making dozens or even hundreds of dispersal orders, and being attacked themselves with a range of projectiles thrown by members of the crowd earlier in the night.

Read complete Berkeleyside coverage of the recent anti-police demonstrations

The Berkeley Police Department said costs to the city have not yet been tallied for its response to the protests — in which crowds ranged from 100 to 1,500 or more people during the first few nights. But the department anticipates costs in excess of several hundred thousand dollars, said Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan. The department does not yet have an estimate for damages to businesses.

Berkeleyside posed a list of questions to Meehan on Dec. 7, and received responses Dec. 18. The questions, some of which have been edited for clarity, follow, along with Meehan’s answers and several videos posted online by members of the crowd. … Continue reading »

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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
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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 »

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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
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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 »

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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
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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 »

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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 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
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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 »

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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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