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Interim police chief lays out vision for the city

By David Scharfenberg, Daily Planet staff
Wednesday July 17, 2002

Roy Meisner, Berkeley’s new interim police chief, inherited a pile of paperwork when he took over for retired chief Dash Butler this weekend. But he seems more interested in what he calls “people work.” 

“We need to really get to know the community better,” said Meisner. “Part of that is getting out of your car and meeting people.” 

Meisner demurred when asked if he has designs on a permanent placement.  

But he suggested that he will throw his hat in the ring as the city begins a lengthy search for a new chief. 

Meisner said he has been on the go since 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning, visiting the department’s various divisions and discussing his vision of a community-oriented police force. 

He said the new emphasis on getting to know the community is particularly important given that the department has hired 120 new officers since 1995. 

“That’s tremendous turnover,” Meisner said. 

The interim chief, who has served on the force since 1972, said his community focus will also include a new emphasis on Berkeley Boosters, the department’s sports and outdoor activities program for city youth. 

Meisner said he will draw on a long tradition of community policing in Berkeley, dating back to the city’s first chief, August Vollner. 

“Most of law enforcement in the country is built on some of the principles formed here in Berkeley,” said Meisner. 

But community policing will not be Meisner’s only priority. The interim chief said he will also work to bump up enforcement in the traffic division, calling on officers to write more tickets for speeding and illegal turns. 

“I’ve asked our officers to start enforcing the law,” he said. “That’s how you prevent accidents.” 

Meisner said he will also place an emphasis on the larger mission of the police department: public safety and service. 

“Every organization has to stand for something,” he said.