BERKLEY, Calif. (BCN)– Interim Berkeley Police Chief Jennifer Louis could be confirmed Tuesday night as the city’s permanent police chief amid allegations of wrongdoing that she allegedly knew about and which she denies. The allegations stem from text messages made public recently that included potentially racist comments by Berkeley Police Sgt. Darren Kacalek, president of the Berkeley Police Association, the organization representing the department’s police officers.
The goals of the association, Kacalek writes on the group’s webpage, include partnering with the community, providing quality police service and “emphasizing the highest degree of cooperation, professionalism and ethical behavior.” In one text message from Kacalek, he appears to repost a message from a person selling their “white privilege card,” according to the website for Secure Justice, a nonprofit that opposes state abuse of power and which published some of the messages.
“I may even be willing to do an even trade for a race card,” the post says. Other allegations against Kacalek include establishing a quota for arrests and anti-homeless remarks. Kacalek supervises the Police Department’s Downtown Task Force/Bike Patrol.
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In another text, Kacalek said, “81 arrests! We can do 19 by Friday for sure!” “I first became aware of these allegations on Thursday November 10, 2022,” Louis said in a statement.
“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 said, “None of the alleged incidents occurred underneath my supervision.”
On Monday, Nathan Mizell, vice chair of the Berkeley Police Accountability Board, posted a page-long statement on Twitter detailing the allegations. Mizell said the post does not represent the view of the board.
Mizell said the allegations of wrongdoing came from a former Berkeley police officer. Secure Justice identified an officer who emailed the mayor and City Council about the alleged arrest quota as Corey Shedoudy.
Shedoudy was a member of the Downtown Task Force/Bike Patrol. The messages revealing the alleged misconduct were sent among task force members, Mizell said.
“These are very disturbing allegations, and we take them very seriously,” city officials said in a statement through spokesperson Matthai Chakko. “We will be hiring an external investigator to verify and investigate any and all documentation and allegations arising from this complaint.”
The allegations were made known to city officials last Thursday. A separate investigation will be done by the city. Secure Justice added that Berkeley City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley initially ordered that the city avoid distributing the messages.
The City Council meeting to consider Louis as permanent chief starts at 6 p.m. Kacalek did not respond to a request for comment via the Berkeley Police Association’s website.
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