Tag Archives: Oakland Tribune

Berkeley will spend up to $50K after police chief blunder

BPD Chief Michael Meehan: two outside agencies have been hired by the city after a mistake he made on March 9
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The city of Berkeley has hired a public relations firm at a cost of $24,000 to review the police department’s media policies, bringing the price tag to $49,000 for Police Chief Michael Meehan’s decision to send a sergeant to a reporter’s home in the middle of the night to ask for a change to a story.

Cornerstone Communications, located in Irvine, will audit the police department’s policies on the release of information, make recommendations to ensure the department is following “best practices,” media guidelines, and train police personnel on changing media dynamics, on understanding social media, and media culture.

The firm will talk to police management and reporters who cover the police department, and assess the police department’s reputation in recent news coverage and social media space. The contract was signed on May 1. … Continue reading »

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Police used internal database to get reporter’s address

Chief Michael Meehan at a police promotion ceremony on March 27. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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When Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan wanted to find out how to contact  Oakland Tribune reporter Doug Oakley to get him to change a story he had written, he directed a sergeant to look for an address on a police database.

The early morning search by Sgt. Mary Kusmiss on March 9 revealed reporter Doug Oakley’s phone number, but not his address, according to documents released by the city of Berkeley on Tuesday in response to a public records request made by Berkeleyside and other media.

“Comm Ctr did research *s me. He has been a RP/victim All 843XXXX I am heading home Let me know if I can help further Mary,” Sgt. Kusmiss wrote to Meehan at 12:26 am on March 9. … Continue reading »

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Questions remain about Berkeley police chief’s actions

Chief Michael Meehan, and Officer Byron White at community meeting on Cukor incident. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Update 2:10 pm: Statement from Berkeley Police Association added below.

A contrite Berkeley police chief spent Saturday afternoon fielding calls from the media to explain why he ordered a sergeant to go the house of a reporter at 12:45 a.m. on Friday to ask for changes in an article the chief thought was inaccurate.

Chief Michael Meehan profusely apologized for his actions, but declined to provide specifics about the incident.

“I was in the wrong,” Chief Meehan said. “It could have, and should have waited until the morning. It was a significant error of judgment on my part.”

To regain the trust of the press, Chief Meehan will order “an independent review of the Department’s policies and practices regarding release of information to the media,” he said in a statement. He wants the Berkeley Police Department to look at the best media policies of other police departments around the country and adopt them. … Continue reading »

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At 12:45 a.m., police chief demands reporter make changes

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Update 2:30 pm. City officials respond to incident:

Statement from Interim City Manager Christine Daniel:

I take this situation very seriously. We understand and appreciate the depth of response to this incident.  The value of the free press in our society is fundamental to who we are as a people. Our organization deeply values our relationship with the media, and individual reporters, and we know that our community depends on the media for information about important events in Berkeley.

The Police Chief has apologized directly to the reporter involved and expressed his sincere regret for his actions on Thursday night.  There was no justification for contacting the reporter in this way and the Chief understands that the more appropriate response to his concerns about inaccurate statements in the article should have been to wait until the following day and make contact by phone or email. The Chief has acknowledged his lapse in judgment and assured me that nothing like this will happen again. … Continue reading »

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