Berkeley Police Department in turmoil over leaked texts about arrest quotas as new allegations surface, and a probe into a department-wide failure to turn over hundreds of thousands of police body-camera videos under wraps. Police chiefs are taking steps to rein in the department, as they seek answers to questions about the controversial texts that have led to allegations of racism.
The texts were leaked to Vice Media reporter Shane Bauer, who released them to the public on Saturday. In them, two officers, including one in Berkeley’s police department, say they need to “solve a quota problem” and that their department is filled with “lazy cops,” “disrespectful” civilians and a “culture of entitlement.”
The texts were originally written in early January — the day after a black man was killed by a white police officer.
More than 2,000 Alameda County residents filed a lawsuit over the Jan. 8 death of Sean Van Loan after his body was left in a vehicle for more than six hours. In the lawsuit, they allege that they were unlawfully detained and unlawfully arrested during the incident.
The lawsuit said the City of Berkeley has failed to meet its own standards regarding police use of force, including the adequacy of training and accountability of the department.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge David Miller asked the city to reveal the existence of the texts between the officers that it has not released, asking whether the existence of them is a “red flag” that would warrant further investigation.
The judge also asked the city to respond on the issue to an earlier order from the judge that found there was a need to provide the texts to the Alameda County district attorney.
Berkeley police officers and the city’s chief of police were ordered to appear in court on Tuesday, where they had been ordered to submit to interviews with officials connected to the case.
City officials said they will appeal Miller’s orders.
At the same time, Berkeley police are in turmoil after the release of police texts that were leaked to Vice Media reporter Shane Bauer, who released them to the public on Saturday.
Bauer wrote that officers in the department, including those involved in the death of Sean Van Loan, use