BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- A Berkeley police union president is off the job after allegedly sending discriminatory text messages to other officers.
The Berkeley Police Department released a statement on Wednesday confirming it accepted Sergeant Darren Kacalek's request to be put on leave of absence in light of the allegations.
The department also released a series of statements which say, in part:
"We are disturbed by the alleged texts by B.P.A. president Darren Kacalek."
"We want the public to know that messages of this type are not reflective of the entire body of officers who work night and day to protect the citizens of Berkeley."
Interim police chief Jennifer Louis, who took the job back in March, claims in a statement, she found out about the allegations last week.
It reads in part: "If at any point during my tenure, from officer to Interim Chief, I had become aware of these allegations, I would have immediately done my part to initiate an investigation."
Louis will remain in her role until the investigation concludes.
On Tuesday night, what was meant to be a relatively straightforward meeting of the Berkeley City Council was turned upside.
The cause was allegations sent to city officials - claiming a pattern of misconduct at the department.
"Arrest quotas, derogatory comments about unhoused people and racism have no place in policing," said Alameda County Public Defender Brendon Woods.
In a statement, the City of Berkeley called the allegations disturbing, and said it was hiring an external investigator to verify the validity of the complaints.
Residents too, called in to comment during Tuesday's meeting to voice their concerns.
"There needs to be a top to down search of where this issue stems from," said one commentator.
Secure Justice, an Oakland-based advocacy group among the first to draw attention to the allegations, finds Louis' claim difficult to believe.
"During the relevant time period of these allegations she was at least a captain, maybe even a deputy chief. The Berkeley Police Department is not that large. It really doesn't pass the smell test," said Brian Hofer.
Despite the early skepticism, Secure Justice says they believe Louis should stay in her role as interim chief until the investigation ends.
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