Tag Archives: Sgt. Mary Kusmiss
Sgt. Mary Kusmiss, the public information officer who the Berkeley police chief sent to the home of a reporter around 1 am on March 9, prompting media coverage around the world, is stepping down from her post.
Sgt. Kusmiss will return to patrol duties sometime in the next few months, she announced Wednesday. She would not discuss the reasons behind the move. No new PIO has been selected yet, she said.
The last few months have been tough ones for the Berkeley Police Department, which was criticized for its response to the bludgeoning death of Peter Cukor, 67, in the Berkeley hills on Feb. 18. The spotlight on the department intensified on March 9 after Chief Michael Meehan ordered Kusmiss to go the Berkeley home of Oakland Tribune Reporter Doug Oakley at 12:45 am to ask him to change a story he had just posted online. … Continue reading »
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 »
Sgt. Mary Kusmiss of the Berkeley Police Department was put in a difficult and very awkward position by her boss, Chief Michael Meehan, when he asked her to go to a reporter’s house at 12:45 am on March 9 to request that a story be changed, according to an attorney who Kusmiss recently retained.
“She is the only person who knows what went on that night,” said Alison Berry Wilkinson, who said Kusmiss was told today that she will be a witness in a city investigation into Chief Meehan.
Wilkinson said Kusmiss “did everything to avoid ending up on Doug Oakley’s doorstep” on the night of March 8-9 when Chief Meehan asked her to do so after seeing an online story the Oakland Tribune reporter had written about a community meeting earlier that night. … Continue reading »
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 »
Berkeley police have reviewed the agency’s actions on the night Peter Cukor was murdered and do not believe they took any missteps, Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan said Thursday.
But media reports have created the inaccurate impression that police ignored an emergency call from Cukor because they were too busy monitoring an Occupy march.
That was the message that Chief Meehan and some of his top staff delivered to Berkeleyside on Thursday afternoon in a wide-ranging interview that lasted more than an hour. … Continue reading »
Update 10:30 pm: By 10 pm Thursday there were no more tents in Civic Center Plaza. Protesters had left the park by then or thier tents had been picked up by public works crews. The sprinklers were on and about 20 police officers were patrolling the park. Those remaining from Occupy Berkeley were hanging out across the street by Berkeley High School.
Berkeley city workers came into Civic Center Park around 1 pm on Thursday and cleaned out the majority of the Occupy Berkeley encampment.
Workers from the public works department, some dressed in light blue haz mat suits, drove a big truck onto the grass and started loading abandoned tents, sleeping bags, chairs, and other items. The 14 workers were accompanied by about 30 Berkeley police officers who stood ready to moderate any clashes with protestors.
But the bulk of the camp had already vacated. Protestors had taken down more than half of the 70 tents at the park by Wednesday night, and another dozen in the morning.
“What we are doing here is a collaborative project to pick up trash and unattended property,” said Sgt. Mary Kusmiss of the Berkeley police department. She said police would not be dismantling occupied tents since it is legal to be in the park in daylight hours.
But the city strategy seemed very effective. By mid-afternoon there were only about seven tents left in the park. The huge mounds of garbage were gone and only ghosts of tents remained, mainly in patches of grass that had turned brown because they had been covered by nylon tents for so long. … Continue reading »
Update, 2:58 pm: The Berkeley Police Department has issued a list of calls for police services at the Occupy Berkeley camp. There have been a total of 24 reported calls since October 23rd, 16 of which can be classified as crimes (this differs slightly from the numbers previously reported by the BPD and cited in our story below). BPD believes there are crimes and other incidents that have gone unreported, as would be expected at any large gathering. BPD says some cases have involved deadly weapons, and that the number of calls has increased in the past week. Read the full list here.
Original story: Without media fanfare or loud demonstrations, the Occupy Berkeley encampment in Civic Center Park has grown to about 90 tents. As Berkeleyside reported, the “radical inclusivity” of the Occupy Berkeley gathering has created tensions. City officials and local police have adopted a policy of monitoring and tolerance, rather than threats and injunctions. City staff and police patrol the encampment regularly. But with both Oakland and San Francisco Occupy sites now closed, what is the likely future for the Bay Area’s last significant Occupy movement site? Not everybody is comfortable with its ongoing presence.
Councilmember Jesse Arreguín, whose 4th district includes Civic Center Park, has views that are echoed by other city officials. “We don’t have any plans to clear people out of the park,” Arreguín said. “I have supported the Occupy encampment from the beginning. There may come a point — I don’t believe the point is now — where we have to ask the people to go. It’s inevitable that the conversation will have to happen.” … Continue reading »
Two men suffered gunshot wounds on Friday night after assailants fired into a crowd milling around an apartment building in the 1500 block of Fairview Street.
At 10 pm on June 3, Berkeley police received numerous 911 calls reporting the sounds of gunfire, according to a press release issued by the police. When officers responded, they found a 26-year old Oakland man who had been shot and a 24-year old Berkeley man who had suffered wounds to his face from an object, according to Sgt. Mary Kusmiss. Both men were taken to area hospitals with non-life-threatening wounds.
“The victims were confronted by a group of young male suspects and words were exchanged between them,” according to the press releases. “The incident escalated quickly when one of the suspects produced a gun and started shooting, striking one victim. The suspects fled on foot.”
Police said the shooting is not random.
BPD is urging anyone who may know anything to call BPD Homicide detail at 510-981-5900 or the Bay Area Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS. (8477).
The killings prompted the Berkeley Animal Care Commission to ask for a list of all the animals police officers have shot in the past five years. It turns out that police have shot more deer than anything else. Most of the time, those deer had been hit by cars. Police shot them to … Continue reading »
The Berkeley Unified School District released a plan on Tuesday to improve security at the high school, but didn’t address one of the major recommendations made by the police – to put security officers in uniform.
The district will pay to have a police officer on campus five days a week instead of four; accelerate training for security officers; hire an independent agency to examine the district’s security procedures; create an ad hoc committee to examine whether to partially close the campus and require students to display identification badges; and install internal locks on classroom doors, among other changes. The measures will cost the district $89,000, according to the report.
But the long list of changes do not address concerns raised by the Berkeley Police Department in a letter sent to Superintendent Bill Huyett on March 31. In the correspondence, Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan said his “top recommendation” for the security program is to put safety officers in uniform. … Continue reading »
On Thursday Dec. 30, around 8:30 pm, two Berkeley teenagers were walking along The Alameda near Hopkins Street when two men stopped them to ask for directions.
Suddenly, one of the men pulled out a gun and demanded that the teens hand over their property. The teens complied, and the robbers took off with two cell phones, a wallet, keys and an iPod.
The robbery was just one of five gun-related robberies that happened in Berkeley from Dec. 27 to … Continue reading »