Police May Bring Back Dogs
At the request of Mayor Tom Bates, the Chief of the Berkeley Police Department has issued a preliminary written proposal to reinstate the department’s canine unit.
Mayoral aide Cisco DeVries confirmed that Bates had expressed interest in a possible reviving of the controversial program.
After complaints by members of the city’s African-American community, Berkeley’s police canine program was suspended by City Council in 1982, but the use of dogs borrowed from other agencies was permitted on a case-by-case basis upon the approval of the city manager. Revival of the program would require City Council action.
Chief Roy Meisner forwarded the 13-page “Berkeley Police Department Canine Patrol” proposal to City Manager Weldon Rucker, Deputy City Manager Phil Kamlarz, and City Attorney Manuela Albuquerque on Sept. 23. The chief also presented the proposal to members of Berkeley’s Police Review Commission at their Oct. 8 meeting.
Under Meisner’s proposal, canine units could be deployed when police believed that a suspect posed an immediate threat, when the suspect was hiding in a narrow, enclosed location—such as a crawl space or under a porch or deck—where entry by officers might pose a danger to their safety, when a suspect was physically resisting arrest, and in searching warehouses or buildings where a burglar might be present. Dogs could also be deployed in narcotics and explosives detection and scent tracking.
Meisner’s proposal would prohibit using police dogs in crowd control.
Commission member Jackie DeBose said that several Commission members expressed concern about the proposed canine program, but decided not to take a formal position. Instead, the Commission voted to seek public input at meetings to be held throughout the city over the next four months. Commission members also requested that Meisner present the plan at the department’s Police Community Forum next month.
—J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
City Website Hacked
The City of Berkeley’s website was hacked this week, but a city computer expert said that there was little, if any, cause for concern.
Earlier this week, a virus containing links to a video poker website appeared on several pages of the city’s site. City of Berkeley E-Government Manager Donna LaSala said that the links were visible on some browsers, but not on others. She said her department was systematically going through and erasing the links from the city website’s code. As late as Thursday evening, portions of the code were still present on the city’s site.
“This is really a non-event,” LaSala said. “They didn’t hack into our internal network. Then we’d be really concerned. But this one is pretty routine, as these things go. Not very sophisticated.”
LaSala said that the Berkeley website gets hacked once every couple of months. “Some bright, burgeoning, whiz-kid tries to jump on. We usually detect it within the first couple of seconds.”
—J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
NLRB Sets Berkeley Bowl Vote
The National Labor Relations Board has scheduled an election for Oct. 30 when workers at the Berkeley Bowl will decide whether or not they want to be represented by United Food and Commercial Worker (UFCW) Butcher’s Union Local 120.
Jeremy Plague, an organizer for the union, said management has been making concessions to workers in an effort to sway the vote, including easing restrictions on health insurance eligibility.
Workers are looking at the new health care policies as a victory but are skeptical about the motives.
“I’ll take it,” said Nicholas Brown, one of the employees who became eligible. “If they are going to give health insurance, sure no problem, thanks. But I’m still going to vote yes when the union comes.”
Meanwhile, Bowl workers and the union are planning a weekend event to help garner support from the community in the face of what they say is a growing anti-union campaign being run by management.
Plague said that management has come on strong since the filing, recently telling employees that they are not allowed to talk about the union at work, a right that he says is protected by the NLRB.
“It’s against the law but all they have to do is post a little paper next to the time clock,” said Plague in reference to a previous ruling handed down by the NLRB that found the Bowl guilty of other infringements. The store’s only obligation under the ruling he said, was to post a memo acknowledging their wrongdoing.
Plague said the Berkeley community has been very supportive. “We have to take advantage of the fact that the Berkeley Bowl is in Berkeley,” he said.
Union event will be distributing flyers outside the store from 2-6 p.m. Sunday.