By Tommy Nguyen
BERKELEY, CA – Vice-Chair Nathan Mizell of the Berkeley Police Accountability Board urged the Berkeley City Council Monday to delay the confirmation of Interim Chief Jennifer Louis due to recent allegations of severe misconduct within the police department.
Mizell said he was made aware of the allegations by a former Berkeley Police Department officer.
Interim Chief Louis, who served as a Captain during the period of the alleged misconduct, is scheduled to be confirmed as the Permanent Chief of Police at a City Council meeting Tuesday.
The alleged misconduct, said Mizell, includes text messages from Downtown Task Force/Bike Unit group chats with racist and anti-homeless statements and texts describing patterns of unlawful police practices. These patterns include the establishment of arrest quotas, profiling, and rewards/punishments for arrest numbers.
Mizell alleged Interim Chief Louis had prior knowledge of the misconduct and took no action.
The allegations specifically implicate BPD’s DTF/Bike Unit officers and their supervisor, Sergeant Darren Kacaleck, who is specifically alleged to have ordered his unit to make 100 arrests per month.
In the texts, Sgt. Kacaleck allegedly makes anti-homeless and racist remarks as well as shares inappropriate content that the former officer described as only “the tip of the iceberg” out of hundreds of corroborating records allegedly exist.
Despite these severe allegations, City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley concluded the City Council should still confirm Interim Chief Louis as scheduled, suggesting Louis was not aware of the misconduct after an “initial inquiry.”
The vice-chairman implied Berkeley PAB was never informed of any such allegations at any point before or during the hiring process.
“The hasty confirmation of the Interim Chief would severely undermine public confidence in the independent oversight that Berkeley’s citizens voted for in establishing the Police Accountability Board,” Mizell said, adding, “It will erode the City’s ability to promote public trust, a responsibility that the City Charter entrusts the Board, and the City as a whole, to uphold.”