Q: What activities is the Berkeley Police Department involved in that the community may not be aware of?
Answer by Sgt. Mary C. Kusmiss S-6 BPD Public Information Officer.
A: The City of Berkeley Police Department (BPD) will enjoy answering this question as it is a good and interesting one. We must start by sharing that there are many activities that happen “behind the scenes” in terms of fighting crime, gathering information towards cases, special enforcement projects and searchwarrants that we cannot share as they would expose our tactics, creativity, potentially create dangerous situations for officers and impede our mission. BPD wants community members to know that we do special projects weekly that they do not see. Most often, these are more successful than visible patrol. The combination uniformed, visible patrol and other methods is the best approach.
That those boundaries above being said, we would like to cover just a few other categories or areas of service that community members may not be aware of.
Since the City of Berkeley Animal Services works generally only until 5:00 p.m., BPD responds to a variety of“animal matter” calls for service after hours. The most prevalent are raccoons, possums, bats and other people’s cats in community members homes. These calls can be awkward, unsettling to some, funny, creative and quirky. Many officers have devised strange creative strategies to manage the calls, but there iscertainly a community expectation that we are going to “do something to solve the problem.
In addition, members of BPD receive calls about loose and/or stray dogs. Officers run after the pups, try to corner them to catch them safely, wrangle him/her into the back of the patrol car and deliver the dog(s) to Animal Services. The facility has after hours kennel/cages with water that officers can put the animals inand a form to fill out regarding the circumstances of how the animal was found. Of course, if the animalhas a tag, officers will pursue the owner(s) if it is an animal companion.
Any death that happens in the City of Berkeley that is unattended (no one is present at the time) requires a BPD response. These calls for service develop and evolve in many ways and can be very emotional to manage. Family members or neighbors call and request a welfare check. A newspaper carrier or post carrier or other worker notes that he/she has not seen an individual in days or longer. At times, a family member or care taker comes to a home and finds the loved one/individual unresponsive. Assisted living andconvalescence homes calls us after deaths as well. Members of BPD sometimes have to force entry into the home to check for the community member and discover the death, either an apparent natural death or some form of suicide. A BPD Supervisor must respond to confirm if there is any evidence of any foul play.
BPD officers have a number of seemingly officious tasks and questions that are difficult for loved ones to deal with but are necessary when the officer calls the Alameda County Coroner. The Coroner is the only individual(s) that are legally allowed to touch or move the body. (except in circumstances when it is a traffic fatality in order to check for an organ donor card) With passings from apparent natural causes, the Coroner will often “release” the loved one to the family for them to make the necessary arrangements. There are times, despite age and some recent illness, that the Coroner may want to retrieve the individual for an autopsy for due diligence. Because the Alameda County Coroner covers all of Alameda County to include all the homicides, these calls can take up to 6 hours or more in some cases. The BPD officer sits with the “body” – seems insensitive to call a loved one that – until all the legal requirements are complete.
Special Enforcement Unit (SEU)
Most community members do not have an opportunity to see or hear about the excellent, tenacious work of BPD’s Special Enforcement Unit. The BPD Special Enforcement Unit (SEU) which is comprised of the Special Investigations Bureau (SIB - narcotics detectives) and Drug Task Force (DTF) (often with the support of detectives from other details in the Investigations Division) conduct search warrants, surveillances, probation and parole compliance checks and searches each week. Their work is so instrumental as there has been a proven nexus between violent crime, most notably shootings and homicides, and narcotics in the Berkeley community over many, many years. With that nexus well known, as a result of their enforcement activities, teams seize many weapons of all types and sizes to include AK 47s, rifles, Tech 9s and an array of handguns. They arrest many of those individuals who have been involved in disputes, shootings and other violent crimes, past and present.
Do you have a question for the Berkeley Police Department? Let us know in the comments.