Berkeley police chief assigned cops to find son's iPhone

May 21, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Questions are being raised over the Berkeley police chief's possible abuse of resources. Several detectives worked overtime to find the chief's son's stolen iPhone.

In a span of just two-and-a-half months, the chief may be finding himself in hot water for the second time. Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan is once again defending himself. This time it's over the way he handled his son's stolen iPhone.

His son attends Berkeley High and back in January someone stole his iPhone from his locker. The phone was equipped with tracking software, so Meehan ordered his detectives to track it down. They followed the signal from Berkeley to 55th Street and San Pablo Avenue in north Oakland. They went door to door, but couldn't find it.

Their efforts, however, ended up costing Berkeley taxpayers two hours of overtime for each of the four officers. Berkeley residents we talked to were surprised by the amount of resources used for a stolen iPhone.

"That does sound excessive. That does sound excessive," said Roger Meadows, a Berkeley Resident.

"If everybody is allowed to get their cellphone that way that would be great, because I've lost a number of cellphones," said Mike Anderson, a Berkeley resident.

The spokesperson for the Berkeley Police Department says using detectives to track down a cellphone is not unusual. Sgt. Mary Kusmiss wrote, "Berkeley Police Department has long recommended that community members use tracking software on their devices or load such software in order to support an investigation and the possible recovery of stolen property."

Meehan is already under scrutiny for sending an officer to a reporter's house at 1 a.m. back in March to ask for changes to a story. There's an ongoing investigation into that incident.

Michael Sherman of Berkeley's Police Review Commission says he still gives the chief the benefit of the doubt.

"By all accounts and all stories, he's done a good job helping reduce crime in this city and reorganize the police department and dealing with some of the serious issues that any city of this size has," said Sherman.

Sherman went on to say that there could have been a very good security reason to retrieve the phone. He says it may have contained personal information of police department employees.


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