BERKELEY, Calif. (KRON) — Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín told KRON4 that he was not aware of sexual harassment allegations levied against the city’s interim police chief Jennifer Louis before the Los Angeles Times published an article Wednesday detailing them.
The Times reported that in 2017, Berkeley police officer Heather Haney filed a complaint about Louis making inappropriate comments to her at a SWAT team party. A law firm hired by the City of Berkeley upheld Haney’s allegations but could not confirm allegations made by two other female officers.
“While I cannot comment on a personnel matter, these allegations are very concerning and cannot be ignored,” Arreguín told KRON4 on Thursday.
Louis joined the Berkeley Police Department in 1999, according to the Times, and became a captain in 2016. She was promoted to interim police chief in 2021 when then-chief Andrew Greenwood retired.
Haney said that at the party, Louis told her child to throw a water balloon at Haney because she was wearing a white tank top, the Times reported. The law firm hired to investigate sustained the complaint, signifying that Louis had violated Berkeley’s harassment prevention policy.
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Louis later appealed the decision, and in 2018 her punishment was reduced to a “written reprimand,” according to the Times. In 2020, Louis was able to have the reprimand removed from her personnel file.
In October, Louis was voted to become the city’s full-time police chief. However, after a scandal involving controversial text messages among officers rocked the department, her installation as chief was paused.
A subsequent report from the Times on Thursday stated that Berkeley City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley knew of the misconduct allegations against Louis, but did not inform the city council of them before its members voted for her to keep her position as chief.