As the whole world watched Berkeley police last week, I was scrambling for my piece of the media pie that had gone viral after the chief sent his info officer in the wee hours to a local reporter's home, seeking changes in the reporter's story.
The reporter was not me.
But after receiving unsubstantiated charges of sexual scandal within the department, I saw visions of a possible BPD sex scandal, based on hearsay.
Perhaps if I dropped in on the BPD public info officer….On the way into police headquarters, I chatted with one of those models who work as T.V. reporters.
The model, and two other journalists on her crew, was in a van with one of those sky-high curly antennas.
A passing Berkeleyan interrupted us with gibberish about getting his own feed from the antenna. I didn't say, "yeah them suckers are powerful."
The model's producer said to the nut, "I don't know what you're talking about."
After 42 years in Berkeley, I know what the nut was talking about.
The model said the police public information officer was stonewalling her on the chief story.
Welcome to BPD, kiddo, out of which our chief at the Planet has said no reporter can pry info. Reporters "young, old, experienced, naïve, stern, charming—the whole gamut, have failed over the years," she wrote recently.
I'm either charming or the whole gamut. Charm to follow.
The model was told by the pistol-packing PIO Sgt. that "we have nothing to add to the information we've previously released."
"I'll see what I can get," I grandiosely told the model. I wanted her to think that local reporters had the edge. In fact we don't. It's the opposite. Most of our officials would rather talk to the majors.
"Good luck," the model said. I've heard good luck from hundreds of models over the years. I'm too short to date models. And I'm old.
At the end of a 50 minute wait, I left a charming handwritten note for the PIO sergeant.
The note: "I'm here to offer my support [which will be taken as bullshit] for the department. And by the way, you can come up to my apartment anytime. Be sure to bring the gun."
I might have said worse, like, "be sure to bring the gun…THAT'S SO HOT!"
By evening, I received an e-mail from a lieutenant (I was expecting to be arrested for taking liberties with an officer) who sent a compendium of the department's official statements. In a subsequent e-mail, the lieutenant noted that both the sergeant and he had gotten the humor.
AND NOW FOR THAT "SCANDAL"
Emboldened by my good fortune of having the lieutenant e-mail me, I forwarded him the unsubstantiated e-mail, which had allegations about the department. It's hardly shocking that sex would take place in a Berkeley police headquarters office.
Berkeley is a home of the free love movement, as well as the free speech movement.
Why shouldn't our police get some free sex?
His only response was to note that BPD does not discuss personnel matters with the press. He neither affirmed nor denied the gossip.
At the core of the scuttlebutt was hanky-panky on a desk top at police headquarters. The email said that the rank-and-file were upset that the chief had been overly lenient about the affair.
You know the bromide about not watching sausage made? I can't use that in writing about hanky-panky.
And now a source more reliable than the unidentified e-mailer has corroborated both the hanky and the panky.
But the source said that no one in the department faulted the chief for his handling of the affair, as the e-mail said. "They both confessed," said the source.
Cops love confessions. It makes life easy.
What's eating the officers, whose "union" condemned their chief last week, is that the chief rides the troops constantly; his recent misstep, only hours after he'd tamed the angry North side mob, was "an embarrassment," said the source.
Many in the department believe the chief is using his Berkeley years just to build up his CV so he can return to Seattle to become chief there.
And the men are jealous of the chief's Berkeley home, purchased by the city.
And to think I've been saying "the chief looks like a young Clint Eastwood, but he's no Dirty Harry." Yet I did raise the Dirty Harry issue on my blog, hinting that he could be a Dirty Harry, for all that I knew--not much.
While to his public, he's a charmer, to his men he's Dirty Harry.
There's no way a Clint Eastwood look-alike could fail to make our punk-ass day.
Ted Friedman reports for the Planet from the scintillating South side.