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Police criticized for possible wrongful arrest

By Devona Walker Daily Planet staff
Tuesday April 09, 2002

Berkeley Police Chief Dash Butler says many things may be levied at the police department, but crookedness isn’t one of them. 

“It’s not in their make up, it’s not something that’s in our organizational environment that is accepted,” Butler said, adding that if police officers do not do their job in the city of Berkeley there will be carnage on the streets.  

But Monday, once again, the conduct of Berkeley Police Department officers were questioned. Two of the department’s special enforcement unit, high-profile narcotics and vice detectives, who, according to Butler, are on the frontlines of the fight against against crime, have been singled out by members of the community for crossing the line. 

Deborah Anne Cooper and Deborah Williams, employees of Clothes Spin on Sacramento Street said Monday they witnessed officers Crais Lindenaugh and Peter Hong wrongfully arrest of an unidentified African-American male and the apparent planting of evidence in the man’s vehicle. 

“We were standing within three feet of them,” Cooper said. “It was badge No. 129. He took him out of the car, put him in handcuffs. I looked inside the car and didn’t see anything on the car seats. Later, the police officer says to him, ‘You’ve got cocaine spilled all over the car.’  

“That’s when I saw all the powder spilled in the car,” she continued.  

Deborah Williams, another employee of Clothes Spin, said she also found the behavior of the officers somewhat suspect. 

“They must have planted that on him because he didn’t have nothing on him,” she said. 

This is not the first time allegations have sprung up regarding the behavior and performance of Lindenaugh and Hong. A narcotics investigation eventually ending up in the hands of the Police Review Commission was also tied back to the policing of Lindenaugh and Hong. Andrea Prtichett, a member of Cop Watch, a nonprofit police watchdog group, was deeply involved in the investigation of several allegations against the two officers — particularly that several apartments were destroyed during a narcotcs sting operation. The allegations in that situation were substantiated. 

“My first direct contact with officer Lindenaugh was through the Police Review Commission hearings. When I went through the UA apartments there was no doubt that they were destoryed, cabinets torn out of their place, everything was trashed. And Lindenaugh’s only explanation was that when you are looking for a booger size pievce of heroine you have to be very thorough and leave nothing unturned,” Prtichett said. “Basically substantiating the fact that they weren’t really looking for drug dealers but drug users.”  

But Butler argues that the vicing of drug use, drug trafficking, prostitution and theft is quite often a preventative measure for murder, asssault and rape.  

“We need to knock down drug trafficking because along with trafficking goes homicides, assults and all those other things,” Butler said. 

He also stated that there was no doubt in his mind whatsoever that the officers have in the past and continue to behave reputably. 

Head of the SEU, Capt. Allen Huyen echoed Butler’s remarks and stated that if he thought there was anything wrong with the policing of Lindenaugh or Hong he would personally have them removed. 

Butler offered a possible explanation to why the complaints seem to follow the two officers.  

“These guys are chasing the dope dealers. One way to get the black jackets off your back is to make personnel complaints against them.” Bulter said. 

“I can’t say we don’t do things wrong or make mistakes, but I can say that we have exceptional screening and recruiting. 

“These young fellows who have to deal with these dealers and drug traffickers have a tough road because just as being police officers is our job in life dealing drugs is theirs. And we have a choice to either make people in Cop Watch happy or people in the community happy.” 

City Councilmember Kriss Worhtington says that now more than ever it will be important for the city to fully utilize the Police Review Commission, Berkeley’s independent police governing arm. 

The citizen-run commission, has no official executive powers, but in the past it has created political and moral pressure upon the city to act. 

Recently there has been an unusuable amount of change on the commission. And Wrothington said in the past the commission has been the subject of manipulation by conservative members of the City Council. 

“I don’t think it is accurate to sat that is the case now,” Worhtington said. “But a few years ago, there was a concerted effort to abolish several commissions.” 

Worthington also stated that he personally finds it very curious that the same officers’s names keep creeping up in relationship to misconduct. 

“It gives one pause,” Worthington said. “In order to have the faith of the people we have to have a strong department. I would think it is very important that all the folks who have seen and heard this kind of stuff do their best to report it.” 


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