Pioneering cop, Jennifer Louis is poised to file a number of historic firsts on the Berkeley Police Division as a homosexual Asian girl chosen to function chief. However as she awaits a affirmation vote from the Metropolis Council, a 2017 investigation into allegations of sexual harassment has surfaced.
An out of doors regulation agency employed by the town to analyze confirmed allegations that she made harassing feedback to 1 girl, however not claims made by two different ladies, in response to metropolis investigative and disposition information reviewed by The Occasions. Louis appealed to Berkeley Metropolis Supervisor Dee Williams-Ridley and in 2018 obtained a written reprimand, stating that some feedback she made have been “unprofessional,” which have been later faraway from her file.
Louis joined the Berkeley police in 1999 and rose steadily by the ranks – from patrol to working as an inspector within the Particular Victims Unit, to main the division’s Strategic Response Crew. She grew to become one of many division’s 4 captains in 2016 and led the police response to the pandemic.
When her predecessor retired in 2021, she was appointed to steer the division because the seek for a everlasting chief started. Luis was one in every of three candidates interviewed to imagine the function, a part of a nationwide search that was speculated to final six months however ended up taking 20. She was tapped for the highest job in October, however the Metropolis Council is voting to substantiate her as chief. was positioned on maintain as a result of a scandal involving the police union chief sending racist textual content messages.
The council members now voting on Louis’ affirmation mentioned they have been by no means conscious of the 2017 allegations towards Louis, the next investigation or Louis’ enchantment, two metropolis officers advised The Occasions.
“The town supervisor ought to have knowledgeable [the council] so that they have all of the related data for [the] to vote,” mentioned one of many officers.
Ten present and former members of the Berkeley Police Division interviewed by The Occasions have been divided of their opinions of Louis, with 4 describing her as having made advances towards youthful ladies within the division, whereas others say she is a powerful chief who’s the main focus. of. baseless accusations.
Louis “is likely one of the smartest, most succesful, sturdy ladies in our division,” mentioned one Berkeley police officer, who spoke on situation of anonymity to talk candidly concerning the interim chief. “She’s a lesbian and she or he’s not afraid to face in that house and she or he would not take s— from anyone, and other people do not prefer it.”
Regardless of the written reprimand, Luis denied all of the accusations towards her, calling them “false”.
“I used to be totally cleared 5 years in the past after an in-depth enchantment listening to that included the presentation of a big witness that the investigator didn’t embrace or receive throughout his examination,” Luis mentioned in a press release to The Occasions. “I’ve by no means engaged in sexual harassment. Nor have I ever discriminated towards or retaliated towards any member of the division or the group. … I care deeply for the protection and well-being of each member of the police division and the group we serve. “
The 2017 investigation arose after Heather Haney, an officer with the Berkeley Police Division, filed a grievance alleging that Louis made inappropriate feedback to her at a SWAT staff get together.
An lawyer from the Los Angeles regulation agency Burke, Williams & Sorensen interviewed quite a few folks in reference to the investigation, in response to witnesses who spoke to The Occasions. They included two different ladies who claimed inappropriate habits by Luis. Though they later left the division, these ladies spoke to The Occasions on situation of anonymity for concern of reprisal.
Haney’s grievance was continued on October 10, 2017, that means the investigator discovered Louis violated the town’s harassment prevention coverage together with her feedback to Haney. Then-Police Chief Andrew Greenwood moved to droop Louis from the division for 5 days. However Luis appealed the findings — and offered his personal case — to Metropolis Supervisor Williams-Ridley, who diminished the punishment on Might 10, 2018, to a “written reprimand” for “unprofessional conduct” that violated police rules requiring “respect amongst staff “. ,” in response to metropolis information reviewed by The Occasions.
Though Haney was knowledgeable of the continuing discovering, she and Louis’ different accusers weren’t conscious of the enchantment or the self-discipline that was in the end settled till they have been knowledgeable by The Occasions. They mentioned they noticed it as a slap on the wrist. With the vote on Louis’ appointment as chief pending, some members of the division who spoke to The Occasions mentioned the knowledge was associated to Louis’ skill to steer the division successfully.
One former Berkeley Police officer advised The Occasions that she was courted by Louis after she joined the division in 2008. The upper-ranking Louis would flirt together with her, she mentioned, and contact her waist throughout work. She claimed they started a secretive sexual affair – secretive, she mentioned, due to Louis’ function as a supervisor.
It isn’t towards Berkeley Police Division coverage to date throughout the division or for officers of various ranks to date. However supervisors are prohibited from assembly the folks they supervise, in response to a senior police official. The girl claimed that, whereas they have been seeing one another, Luis generally acted as her supervisor at work.
The girl mentioned Luis was afraid that if they’d a relationship and it grew to become public, it will harm Luis’ repute, in response to the lady’s interview for the 2017 investigation.
She described to the investigator an incident throughout their alleged relationship in a locker room at police headquarters. “She type of cornered me by my locker … once I barely had any garments,” the lady mentioned within the interview. “I bear in mind feeling actually scared that if somebody got here in… my locker is true within the line of sight of whoever opened the door.”
The girl mentioned within the interview that she felt “weak” and feared publicity.
The girl additionally advised the investigator an incident she mentioned occurred later when she was courting somebody. Louis confronted her privately at a celebration. “You are making an attempt to exchange me?” she recalled her saying within the interview with investigators. “They will by no means be pretty much as good as me.”
Nevertheless, within the interview for the 2017 investigation, the officer denied having a romantic relationship with Louis, and she or he advised The Occasions that she had by no means filed a grievance towards her. She mentioned within the 2017 interview that she grew to become mates with Luis, and that when Luis requested her out, she refused, in response to the interview transcript.
Luis’ lawyer, Alison Berry Wilkinson, claims that there was no romantic relationship, and investigators discovered the lady’s accusations unproven.
One other former Berkeley police officer officer mentioned that in 2013 she met then-Sgt. Luis as a rookie cop. Louis was in command of the rookie officers on the time, she mentioned. Louis confirmed her preferential remedy, she claimed, together with providing her time beyond regulation shifts that she didn’t supply to others. When rumors unfold that the 2 have been seeing one another, she spoke to Louis, who requested her, “How would you are feeling about us seeing one another?” the lady advised The Occasions.
The officer mentioned she refused and advised Louis she wasn’t considering courting folks contained in the division, she advised The Occasions. However, months later, she began courting a fellow officer.
When Luis came upon concerning the relationship, she began doing issues “dangerous” to the couple, the lady advised The Occasions. Luis denied the accusations, they usually weren’t confirmed by investigators.
Of the three ladies making allegations, Haney was the one one to file a grievance.
Haney mentioned she attended a SWAT staff barbecue in Might 2017, the place she mentioned then-Capt. Luis, her chief within the staff, made inappropriate feedback.
At one level through the get together, Haney mentioned Louis ordered her little one, who she delivered to the get together, to throw a water balloon at Haney as a result of “she’s sporting a white tank,” in response to the investigation’s interview transcript.
Haney additionally mentioned that, in a gaggle dialog, Louis talked about breastfeeding and mentioned, when the infant is not latching, “she likes f-ing round with the nipple, after which she turned to me, ‘You know the way that’s.’ .’” She mentioned: “I’ve no kids. The best way I perceived it was as a result of I am homosexual or courting a woman … that is why she made that remark.”
The investigative regulation agency adopted up on Haney’s grievance concerning the feedback made on the get together.
When Louis made her later enchantment to the mayor, in response to Wilkinson, witnesses painted a distinct image. “There’s nothing sexual” concerning the shirt reference, one witness advised The Occasions.
Metropolis Supervisor Williams-Ridley concluded there was “unprofessional conduct” concerning Louis’ feedback about Haney’s white shirt and “excused” her for the alleged feedback about breastfeeding.
The town declined to touch upon the sexual harassment investigation, saying state regulation prohibits it from commenting on police personnel issues. The town additionally refused a public information request for particulars concerning the investigation, citing the “prohibition on disclosure of peace officer private information.”
The town supervisor’s 2018 letter to Luis after her enchantment knowledgeable her that she may make a request to take away the written reprimand from her personnel file in 2020. Luis made the request in June 2020, and the reprimand was faraway from her file, that August.
“The Metropolis of Berkeley is dedicated to offering a piece atmosphere freed from harassment led by complete harassment coverageand takes accusations of harassment very severely All complaints are completely investigated to find out the info, and based mostly on these info, acceptable actions are taken,” mentioned metropolis spokesperson Matthai Chakko.
“We have been shocked”
However the ladies who spoke out towards Luis expressed their frustration. Based mostly on the accusations, they questioned the suitability of Luis for chief: “You do not need somebody like that … in energy.”
The give attention to the sooner investigation doesn’t come at a very good time for Luis, whose nomination to be everlasting chief was placed on maintain in November after the leak of texts believed to point out the president of the police union. making racially charged remarks and demanding detention quotas.
Luis denied information of the texts, however it was sufficient for the Municipal Council to indefinitely postpone the vote to substantiate her as chief.
“If at any time throughout my tenure, from officer to Interim Chief, I had turn into conscious of those allegations, I might have instantly finished my half to provoke an investigation. Not one of the alleged incidents occurred below my supervision,” Luis mentioned in a press release concerning the textual content scandal.
Two sources throughout the division who help Luis mentioned they imagine the leaked texts and allegations of sexual harassment which have now surfaced could also be supposed to sink Luis’s probabilities of being voted in as chief.
The ladies who accused Luis, nevertheless, say they hope to make clear an investigation that was quietly closed years in the past.