The murder of Berkeley resident Peter Cukor - this was the guy whose 911 calls went unanswered because the BPD were busy babysitting an Occupy march - continues to resound in the People's Republic. The chief of police has been forced to apologize to a reporter after the chief had the guy rousted at home to correct a story he had just filed.
The Berkeley police chief's decision to send an officer to a reporter's home after midnight Thursday met with more criticism Sunday, with the city's rank-and-file officers saying they were "gravely concerned" about his actions.
Chief Michael Meehan has apologized for ordering the department's public information officer to go to the Berkeley home of Bay Area News Group reporter Doug Oakley at 12:45 a.m. Friday after efforts to reach the journalist by phone and e-mail failed.
Oakley, 45, had written a story about a raucous community meeting Meehan attended Thursday. The story, which appeared online late that night, reported that Meehan had apologized for the department's slow response in connection with the Feb. 18 slaying of Berkeley hills resident Peter Cukor by an intruder on his property.
The report upset Meehan, who said he never apologized for a slow response - which he has steadfastly denied - but instead had said he was sorry he had failed to quickly release information to the public about the slaying.
The chief's decision to send Sgt. Mary Kusmiss to Oakley's door has rankled many on his 160-member force. Many are privately grumbling that the former Seattle police captain is more worried about burnishing his image and spinning the story instead of responding to concerns about whether police staffing was adequate the night Cukor was killed.
Give the chief's minion who visited Oakley credit for telling him how embarrassed she was to be there. And, give Oakley a demerit for suffering a panic attack. Man up, dude. And, of course, we can all agree that the chief "acted stupidly."
But, still, it's understandable why the chief might be a little punchy. It's a little rich to see so many Berkeleyites querulously wondering "where were the police?" when so many of them see themselves as bad-ass street rebels (at least in their Walter Mitty fantasy lives) who no doubt have supported "cop watch" style programs, and other anti-cop measures.
How many of these complainers have supported Occupy over the last 6 months? It was an Occupy march that distracted scarce police resources, after all. It's that support that has caused Occupy to act unpredictably: now peaceful, now violent. You don't know what they're going to do next, so the police have to babysit them without arresting them. (by contrast, a violent right-wing march, should one actually occur, would be shut down without comment). Like it or not, that means no police to respond to "regular" crimes.
What about Cukor's alleged killer, a familiar Berkeley type: the young man wandering the streets and "off his meds." How many of these new-fangled "law & order" types have seen the crazies and homeless wandering Telegraph Avenue, and effectively accepted it (by repeatedly voting into office politicians who believe lunatics have civil rights, and that homeless people are out there because it's "Reagan's fault")? Now they're upset that one of these nuts has predictably done what the voices in his head said to do?
And, what if Cukor had confronted his killer with (shudder) a gun? What if he'd killed the man who ended up killing him? I can promise that the chief would be explaining to angry "community meetings" why the police didn't think Cukor hadn't committed a crime.
The chief acted stupidly, but that's only because the community he is protecting and serving has a history of acting stupidly.