Berkeley Police Chief Sends Officer to Reporters Home After Midnight
Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan sent of his officers to the home of Doug Oakley, a Bay Area News Group reporter, in an attempt to get the reporter to change his story. Chief Meehan didn’t like the way he was portrayed in a story and sent Sgt. Mary Kusmiss to his home at 12:45 AM. She had been ordered by Chief Oakley to “request” that he change a story he had written.
When the Sgt. Arrived at the home her repeated knocking woke the entire family, including Mr. Oakley’s wife sand two small children ages three and five.
Oakley’s first concern was that something bad had happened to a relative, but he was instead told he needed to change his story about a rowdy community meeting that Chief Meehan had attended the night before. The Chief’s representative made it known the Chief wanted the story changed “right now.” But Oakley explained the story couldn’t be altered even if he wanted to until morning.
After Sgt. Kusmiss left, Oakley’s knees started shaking and he had a panic attack.
His fear was generated by wondering what might have happened if someone who was less understanding had been sent by the Berkeley Police Chief. Did the Chief plan to send more armed officers to the reporter’s door every time he felt like having a story changed?
The Interim City Council Manager, Christine Daniel said, “There was no justification for contacting the reporter in this way and that a more appropriate response to his concerns should have been to wait until the following day to make contact by phone or by email.”
People have expressed their concern and outrage around Berkeley from Officer Tom Kaplin, who is the head of the Police Officers Union, to residents who call for his resignation, to Peter Sussman, a Berkeley First Amendment advocate who suggested it was police intimidation pure and simple, however he intended it.
Time for that corrupted sheriff to step down from his position. Intimidating news reporters or bloggers is a violation of the US Constitution. I think it is obvious they have another version of Sheriff Christianson on their hands.
This is so very close to our local scene. I have heard of instances of people being threatened locally for even being on radio about anything that shadows stories that question behaviors of our law enforcement agencies. It tells me more about the truth they seek to squelch through bullying, and for the intimidation, I pray that the truth is revealed to take away their positions from where they consistently foster abuse of power at all levels of law enforcement culture. People are being murdered to cover up the misdeeds of a few, yet I see too often the cheerleaders and apologists that don’t allow these questions to be brought to the public’s attention. Color of Authority abuses are real, and need to be handled very clearly as the crime that they are. Before attacking me for these views, try being on the other side and needing help, and meeting with someone who will support all things in uniform unquestioningly. I do not appreciate the jeopardy that your ignorance would put others in. My ex-husband, an officer in another town, tried to get my kids from me before we could go to court about our divorce, with no child custody agreement yet issued, and sent an officer from my town to make the request that he get the kids overnight the day before court. I received the phone call while shopping in Modesto. I replied that I had already given my answer to my husband’s girlfriend two hours prior. I asked why he was trying to intimidate me out of keeping my children, when their father clearly had removed himself from their lives for a number of months, and with the pending court date in two days, I had little faith or trust in his intentions to stay in the area. I also asked if I was in violation of anything at that point for refusing. I was instructed that I was not to take them out of the area without notification to their father. I stated I was going to take the matter up with my attorney the next morning, during business hours. The officer stated, “That is well within your rights, Ma’am.” I was able to get the incident report, which was listed as an “inter-agency assist”, because he initiated the call from his work. Believe me, divorce court does not like this sort of behavior. It is my understanding that his attorney fired him as a client. Without protection from these abuses, no one is safe.