Reinstated Telegraph Cop Patrols Spotty, as Teley Street Life Continues to Eat the Street—An Ontology
Initial South-side response to announced resumption of Telegraph Avenue police foot patrols—after a five year absence—was met with cynical skepticism born of years of inconsistent avenue policing. The two-man patrols team Berkeley and U.C. police.
As one veteran avenue homeless man put it, "they always increase their policing this time of year, especially during graduation, when parents are here. After graduation, the street patrols will be gone."
Dazzled by police statements that the patrols would be "permanent," some Teley businessmen were so busy making with hosannas they forgot to see if in fact the patrols were more than wishful thinking.
Teley businessmen, when not bitterly complaining about slow or unresponsive cop-response, have constantly entreated police over the years for stepped up avenue policing. Just when it seemed their efforts were succeeding, they now face one last obstacle.
That obstacle…harsh reality.
Police have previously said they must "keep our options open." And in both departments, budget cuts may have taken their toll.
The usual scene of ten to twelve street-sitters and layers outside Amoeba's annex was cleared last weekend by a passing cop in a cop car—not on the foot patrol.
But the same scene was permitted, days later, to stay within a police designated area by an officer with a different policy.
"We have to consider the rights of everyone." the more lenient officer told me.
I set out last week to look for the patrols, both on foot and on bicycle, and was "shocked, shocked" to find a cop-dearth. That's when I popped in on university police, where I button-holed a hurried captain who said the patrols are proceeding on schedule and that they are "permanent."
Sunday patrols have been announced as a possibility.
"I'm not saying they're not out there, or shirking their duties," I told the captain. "I'm just saying that I haven't seen them."
After flashing a dark look, the captain had to go. He was leaving the station when he talked to me.
Urban Strider, who covers the Berkeley street, says he saw the patrols in their first outings, but not thereafter.
The usual street suspects report that police street patrols have been out and about. I have seen a reduction in objectionable street behavior, especially the absence of a mob which encamps at Cody's where a new no-trespassing sign is posted. Or was this a chimera?
Have the claimed patrols changed the avenue? Two telegraph officers, not foot patrol, have said—no, although it may be too early to say. Doris Moskowitz, carrying on for Moe, rated any change as "slight."
Lt. Eric Tejada, UCPD public information officer, acknowledges "cross-currents" in staffing, including last minute sick leaves. But, he says, "we intend to patrol at our stated hours. The stated hours: 11 a.m.—9 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
Tejada reports seven arrests and seventeen citations in the first week of the patrols.
The patrols must be out there.
Kriss Worthington, Dist. 7, councilman is awaiting a report on patrol accomplishments from both Berkeley police chiefs. "But success [of the patrols] "does not depend on arrests, but on "prevention," he adds.
Berkeley's animal control officers, who team periodically with what seem to be periodic cop foot patrols, have issued some animal control citations. I talked Monday to the recipient of a dog citation, who was having trouble clearing his ticket. Sprawling pit-bulls on Teley are allegedly scaring students and shoppers.
I know the street patrols are patrolling, but where and when? I've searched for the patrol up and down the avenue on my bike many times at many times.
Last week Mercury News Group published a People's Park photo of the foot patrol making a bust of a South Carolina man wanted for attempted murder in Carolina. The park is on the patrol route. According to Tejeda that bust began with the patrol's investigation of a shopping cart in the park.
It wasn't as big a bust as the Phillip Garrido case, but it was a major bust, according to Tejada. Three years ago UCPD arrested Garrido, a rapist, who had abducted Jaycee Lee Dugard, holding her captive eighteen years in Antioch.
So I know the foot patrols are out there, okay?
Last year, demonstrations against a no sit-lie proposal that would eliminate sitting as well as lying in city business districts signaled opposition to the proposal—a possible first step to changing the scene on Teley.
The proposal, for which a first draft, will be submitted in time for the November ballot has not yet been written, according to Craig Becker, president of Teley property owners, and sit-lie demonstrators have turned to occupy actions.
With the apparent "spotty" Teley foot patrols, we wonder about the enforcement of such an ordinance. No smoking within 25 feet of city businesses, approved by voters, is now enforced only sporadically, usually as an option for police.
THE STORY MIGHT HAVE ENDED HERE…BUT HOW DID I MISS THE PATROLS?
I took one last step before submitting the above story. I called Al Geyer at Annapurna, 43, an historic Teley head shop. "They just walked by," Al said.
At that, I was out the door and on my bike, finding them in People's Park, where we speculated on my foot patrol problems. Immediately officer Melissa Kelly diagnosed me with a bad case of "logical fallacy"—thinking that if I didn't see it, it didn't happen.
Carol from the hat shop, another historic Teley business, believes my problems run deeper. And she told how only moments before she had "hailed" the patrol, which she said often checks in on her store. She was, she said, asking the police to deal with a drunk outside her store. According to Carol, the drunk got by with a no-smoking ticket and a move along.
A veteran man-of-the-streets suggested I was moving faster than the patrols, and by some weird law of physics, was outpacing them.
Another street friend noted that she has friends who tell her they haven't seen her around for weeks, even though she's on the same regular schedule.
Kelly said there were lots of reasons I might not have caught the patrols in action. She was interrupting her patrol Thursday to attend an award ceremony for a fellow officer.
Kelly asked if I had seen the patrol on Bowditch, which runs parallel with Teley. I had but couldn't stop.
Kelly pointed out that they stop regularly in shops to see if shop owners are having street problems.
Kelly reported that Sunday patrols are more than a proposal, and will happen soon.
Later, I played spot the patrol with two foot patrollers just below Bancroft. They gave me further logistical information; the most important detail: they can always be called away to an emergency.
Trust me, they're out there, and soon on Sundays.
Ted Friedman, self-appointed "Voice of the South-side," asks his readers to keep him posted on Teley foot patrols @berkeleyreporter.com.