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Berkeley PD Whistleblower Leads to Call in Delaying Confirmation of Police Chief

by Who Watches... Y'know
An unnamed whistleblower, formerly from the ranks of the Berkeley Police Department, has come forward with allegations against department members and the interim police chief. The whistleblower has been in contact with the Police Accountability Board. The board is now asking Berkeley city council to delay the promotion of the interim police chief to permanent status.
The vice-chair of Berkeley's police accountability board, Nathan Mizell, sent out a press release today "calling on Berkeley city council to delay the confirmation of interim chief [Jennifer] Louis". This recommendation comes after allegations described by a whistleblower, who is an unnamed former BPD officer. Interim police chief Louis is scheduled to be confirmed during the city council meeting set for tomorrow evening (November 15, 6PM). Information about the meeting, including the teleconference link and how to make a public comment can be found at the website.

The whistleblower has filed a complaint describing "unlawful police practices". The complaint includes the "establishment of arrest quotas" and "profiling". These allegations involve the downtown police task force and bike patrol. The allegation further asserts that interim chief Louis was made aware of these practices, but did nothing to stop the behavior.

The president of the Berkeley police officers' association Sargent Darren Kacalek is directly implicated in this scandal. He supervises the downtown task force and bike patrol. He has set a quota for his team to make 100 arrests per month. Kacalek established a system of rewards for his officers if they achieve that arrest benchmark, as well as a system of punishments for not making their goal. There was a specific focus on arresting homeless individuals, calling for his officers to "ride by the bodies" and "wipe out" the homeless population in the downtown area.

The allegations against Kacalek include a series of racially-motivated text-messeges sent in group chat, and postings made on the police officers association Facebook page. Statements and posts were made about Kacalek's perceptions of the Black community having privilege over White people. Other messages pertain to "welfare checks", "free college" and a favorite right-wing talking point: "Obama [phones]". Concerning messages are said to number in the hundreds.

Berkeley city manager Dee Williams-Ridley was made aware of these allegations. The city manager wishes to move forward on promoting Louis from interim chief to permanent police chief. Williams believes Jennifer Louis was not aware of the misconduct. This is a counter-narrative to the whistleblower, who alleges Louis was made aware. Even if Louis had no knowledge, hypothetically, if wouldn't speak well of her leadership if the downtown patrol had formed a gang within their ranks which was operating with racial and classist motivations. The city manager's recommendation is superseding the power of the police accountability board. The board is mandated to make investigations of all members of the police department, including command staff and the chief. The board issues recommendations to council based on their findings. The city manager is recommending that council promote Louis before an investigation can happen.

The complaint is not limited to Sgt Kacalek and interim chief Louis. Other officers within the downtown task force and bike patrol are implicated, though not named in the accountability board press release. Unfortunately, the former Berkeley cop who had the decency to come forward with these ethical issues no longer works with the police force. The cops who are the subjects of the complaints are actively patrolling the streets and collecting paychecks. The police officers' association and the department's command have been wailing about the difficulty of hiring new police officer's in today's sociopolitical environment, and increased calls for accountability. The Berkeley police police need to reflect on the possibility that maybe they are having a hard time hiring and retaining new officers because of a problematic culture within their ranks is repellent to many people.

Oath-keepers, Proud Boys, III%ers and other extremists are trying to join police departments nationwide, and are often succeeding in influencing departments. California is no exception. Berkeley needs a police chief who will take a stand against extremist activity in the ranks of the city's police department. There needs to be a full survey of the political motivations of all department members, including checking peoples' social media posts, as well as auditing text-message and emails. If Louis cannot do the work, Berkeley needs someone who can.
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Wed, Nov 16, 2022 11:18PM
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