Statements from City Manager and Police Chief

Saturday March 10, 2012 - 11:42:00 PM

Editor's note: These statements were published on the berkeleyside.com blog at 2:30 on Saturday afternoon. After I wrote to the city manager at 5.58 p.m. asking why they were never sent to the Planet, we received a copy at about 6:15. While city staff is brushing up on media etiquette, someone might take the time to compile a press list through which they can release information to all media outlets at the same time. 

Statement from Interim City Manager Christine Daniel

I take this situation very seriously. We understand and appreciate the depth of response to this incident. The value of the free press in our society is fundamental to who we are as a people. Our organization deeply values our relationship with the media, and individual reporters, and we know that our community depends on the media for information about important events in Berkeley. 

The Police Chief has apologized directly to the reporter involved and expressed his sincere regret for his actions on Thursday night. There was no justification for contacting the reporter in this way and the Chief understands that the more appropriate response to his concerns about inaccurate statements in the article should have been to wait until the following day and make contact by phone or email. The Chief has acknowledged his lapse in judgment and assured me that nothing like this will happen again. 

The Berkeley Police Department looks forward to focusing its efforts moving forward on restoring the trust of the press and ensuring that the media has more timely and accurate information about events in Berkeley. To facilitate that, the Chief is planning an independent review of the Department’s policies and practices regarding timely releases of information. When that review is completed, a report will be provided to the City Council and the community. 

Statement from Police Chief Michael K. Meehan

I sincerely apologize for my actions on Thursday night. The Berkeley Police Department has a good, productive working relationship with the Oakland Tribune and its reporters. I have apologized to the reporter personally and I take full responsibility for this error in judgment. I was frustrated with the Department’s ability to get out timely information, but that is no excuse. My actions do not reflect the values of the Berkeley Police Department. I deeply appreciate the importance of an independent and thoroughly informed media, and how they assist us in making our community aware of important events and information. I am committed to ensuring that the Police Department continues to have a trusting and professional working relationship with the press and to make sure that happens, I am planning for an independent review of the Department’s policies and practices regarding release of information to the media.