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5 Things Berkeley Police Chief Meehan Wants You To Know

Part 1 of 2: Chief Meehan shares information about crime trends in Berkeley, plus department goals and priorities.

At a luncheon with the Berkeley Lions Club last week, Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan gave an overview of the department's goals, successes and struggles, and answered questions about crime in Berkeley. Here are the first 5 things Meehan shared about policing Berkeley. Interested in the next 5 things the chief wants you to know? Click on "keep me posted!" below to receive an email update with the next installment.

Crime is Going Down in Berkeley

The Berkeley Police Department is striving toward the goal of a 10 percent reduction in Part I crime. The FBI classifies violent crimes as Part I crimes, which include murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault and the property crimes of burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft. 

"Last year we came really close with an 8.8 percent reduction," said Meehan, who added that the drop was twice the state average.

The Ultimate Goal is No Crime

"There is no amount of crime that is acceptable," said Meehan. "The level we want to get to is zero." 

Meehan added that while "no crime" may seem an impossible goal, accepting anything less is not a valid alternative, because every crime means a victim being hurt in some way. The department strives to see less crime every day, Meehan said. 

A Down Economy Doesn't Always Mean Upped Crime

Fluctuations in violent crime are generally a mystery, explained Meehan. 

"Sometimes when the economy has gone down, crime has gone up — other times, not so," said Meehan. "During the Depression, crime went down." While lesser crimes may go up when the economy is down, "generally, with Part I crimes, there is no consistency," he said.

Meehan added that his philosophy in the department is not to hold anyone to account for crime going up, "because we don't always know why it goes up," he said. "The only thing is ask people to do is know that it's going up, especially in their area, and have some plan to address it."

There Has Only Been One Homicide in Berkeley in 2011

The murder on Blake Street in March has been the city's only homicide in 2011. By October last year, there had already been five murders in Berkeley. 

Berkeley Has a High Number of Traffic Collisions with Pedestrian Injuries

The city has been working on a public safety master plan, according to Meehan, to deal with the high number of traffic collisions involving pedestrians. When compared to cities of similar size and population in California, Meehan said, Berkeley ranks at the top for the number of traffic collisions causing injury to pedestrians, and has done so for the past six years.

The police department is providing additional enforcement in areas where the highest number of traffic injury-collisions involving pedestrians occur, Meehan said. 

Do you have a question for the Berkeley Police Department? Let us know in the comments or email berkeley@patch.com and we will try to include it in our weekly Q&A with PIO Sgt. Mary Kusmiss.

This article was updated to clarify the pedestrian-injury element of Berkeley's traffic collision rate.

Kelly Reineke October 24, 2011 at 02:59 PM
"areas where the highest number of traffic injury-collisions occur," Meehan said. Where are these areas, I have a teen who will be driving soon and I'd like her to have this awareness
Paul Parish October 24, 2011 at 04:56 PM
SAME QUESTION: areas where the highest number of traffic injury-collisions occur, Meehan said? " WHy did you not ask where these were and report them?
Ari Soglin (Editor) October 24, 2011 at 06:09 PM
Paul and Kelly ask a great question. I'm jumping in because Emily may not be available to respond today. I'll let her address whether we can get the police department to identify the specific areas where those injury-collisions occur most often. In the meantime, please check out this map where we've identified some "traffic nightmare" intersections and asked readers to name others: http://patch.com/A-mN1k. If you click on the map markers that look like the Patch logo, you'll find stories that examine those specific intersections.
BerkeleyAccountableSchools October 24, 2011 at 06:59 PM
You might spend some time using TIMS, UC Berkeley's Transportation Injury Mapping System. It lets you query on a bunch of different inputs, including location. I just ran it for all injury/fatality accidents at any date/time/weather in Berkeley during 2009 and got a map with some intersection clusters that correspond pretty well with my own experience. Be careful out there! http://tims.berkeley.edu/
BerkeleyAccountableSchools October 24, 2011 at 07:02 PM
In terms of low-hanging fruit for Chief Meehan: how about walking across the street from the police station? I've been approached on more than one occasion by people there who wanted to sell me drugs. And walking through there on Saturday evening, the Occupy Berkeley people were definitely lighting up. Or are we assuming that everyone and his cat has a medical marijuana card at this point?
Emily Henry (Editor) October 25, 2011 at 03:45 PM
Yes, TIMS is a good resource. We did a story about the project here: http://patch.com/A-hsrJ However, the data is not entirely complete (TIMS representatives say there may be around 2 percent of incidents missing), only includes severe injuries, and does not provide context such as taking into account factors such as higher concentrations of cyclists or pedestrians in certain areas (like Berkeley). But it can provide insight into some of the collision hot spots.
Emily Henry (Editor) October 25, 2011 at 03:47 PM
Thanks Kelly. We're working on getting an answer for you from BPD.
Emily Henry (Editor) October 25, 2011 at 03:49 PM
Paul — hopefully we will be able to provide a list, or at least some insight into the roads in Berkeley BPD is trying to make safer. In the mean time, the TIMS project includes an interactive map that shows severe injuries on Berkeley's roads: http://patch.com/A-hsrJ

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