BERKELEY — Damning allegations of arrest quotas, racial profiling and a targeted focus on homeless people have rocked the Berkeley Police Department and jeopardized efforts to confirm its top cop.

Last week, a former Berkeley police officer emailed Mayor Jesse Arreguín and the entire City Council dozens of text screenshots that appear to implicate several officers — including Sgt. Darren Kacalek, a 20-year department veteran and president of the police association —  in making disparaging messages against unhoused residents and people of color.

Kacalek, the supervisor of the police department’s Downtown Task Force and Bike Detail, allegedly advocated focusing on homeless people to successfully make 100 arrests each month, despite California law banning arrest quotas.

The Berkeley Police Association released a statement Wednesday saying it was “disturbed by the alleged texts” and support a thorough investigation. In the interim, Kacalek is on a leave of absence from the association.

“These messages undermine trust and confidence,” said Sgt. Scott Castle, the police association vice president. “Discrimination has no place in modern police work.”

Until the claims can be investigated, Berkeley City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley announced late Tuesday night that the city would postpone permanently appointing Interim Chief Jennifer Louis, which was previously scheduled on that evening’s city council’s consent calendar.

Berkeleyside reported Monday that Louis said she first learned about the allegations Thursday and they did not occur under her supervision.

“If at any point during my tenure, from officer to interim chief, I had become aware of these allegations, I would have immediately done my part to initiate an investigation,” Louis wrote in a statement.

Williams-Ridley said the postponement was a mutual decision between her and the interim chief, after hearing from dozens of furious residents, many of whom said bringing in a new official chief in the current atmosphere would only further splinter public trust. Louis has led the department since March 21, after former Chief Andy Greenwood retired.

“We both feel that it’s very, very valuable and important that we listen to the community and that we try and do everything that we can to ensure public trust, especially in this appointment,” Williams-Ridley said at the council meeting.

While the city manager reaffirmed her plan to hire an external investigator to verify the “very disturbing” messages and allegations, she and Arreguín said Tuesday that they believe Louis did not know about the alleged messages or behavior of Berkeley Police Department officers.

However, Brendon Woods, Alameda County’s chief public defender, shared …read more

Source:: The Mercury News


Berkeley interim police chief appointment on hold amid investigation of alleged racist, illegal behavior

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