Berkeley Police Department in turmoil over leaked texts about arrest quotas
Posted Friday, May 11, 2012 5:13 am
BY MATTHEW BECKER
Police Chief Jonathan A. Elias of Berkeley expects to be the subject of police reform litigation after releasing an internal survey of officers and the community about the conditions of his department.
The survey answers to questions in the form of written responses provided by Berkeley police to the Berkeley City Council, and the chief is expected to file a lawsuit against the city with the city’s law department over the results.
The data, which were obtained by the news website Berkeleyside, is being reviewed by lawyers after Berkeley City Attorney Dennis Herrera threatened the chief with litigation unless the chief released the data.
The chief, who said he was acting as the law enforcement leader in the community, is also under fire for releasing an internal audit of a citizen-initiated program called Operation Clean Sweep at the end of March.
Under the program, the chief’s department began a campaign to identify and arrest people suspected of criminal and illegal activity related to the Occupy movement. The program started with 12 officers, but has since recruited about 50 people.
In its report, the chief’s department said the program was successful: it reduced overtime costs and led to the dismissal of some suspects and convictions for crimes.
But Chief Elias said the city’s police union was seeking to have the report suppressed, so the data could not be released under the public trust law that allows the chief to keep internal records. He is expected to appeal the department’s ruling.
A spokesman for the San Francisco County District Attorney’s Office said Friday it would not comment on an investigation involving the police department.
The chief said he would not release the internal survey until a court has ruled on whether the chief has the authority to make the report public. He also planned to introduce the survey to the city council next week.
“It is not the chief’s job to decide what should be in the public domain,” Chief Elias said. “If you want something in the public realm, go get it yourself or ask for it at City Hall. That’s the only place it belongs.”
The chief’s department had been gathering information