Berkeley official accused of failing to reveal investigation into police chief election

Berkeley’s metropolis supervisor got here beneath scrutiny Thursday after a report by The Occasions additional allegations of misconduct of the lady she selected to steer town’s Police Division.

Metropolis Supervisor Dee Williams-Ridley chosen interim Chief Jennifer Louis in October to take the job as police chief. Williams-Ridley, nevertheless, didn’t inform the Metropolis Council or town’s Police Accountability Fee about allegations of sexual harassment in opposition to Louis, which had been investigated in 2017, based on officers.

Metropolis officers and watchdogs stated details about the earlier investigation into Louis must be given to these interviewing her for the job as prime cop, in addition to to town council members who will now vote on her affirmation.

The Police Accountability Board, which gives civilian oversight of the division, “has by no means been conscious of any allegations of sexual harassment made by staff of the Berkeley Police Division,” John Moore, the chairman of the Police Accountability Board, stated in an electronic mail. Neither the board “nor the earlier oversight unit (the Police Evaluation Fee) was ever conscious of or given entry to town supervisor’s inner audit of the Interim Chief’s conduct.”

An out of doors legislation agency in 2017 confirmed allegations that Louis made harassing feedback to at least one lady however not claims made by two different girls, based on metropolis investigative and disposition data reviewed by The Occasions. After an attraction from Louis, Williams-Ridley lastly issued her a “written reprimand” in 2018, which was later expunged from her file.

Metropolis councilors Kate Harrison and Ben Bartlett spoke to The Occasions and stated they’d not been knowledgeable of the investigation.

Harrison confirmed that in the course of the council session “the place the nomination was introduced to us, it was not revealed.”

“I am involved concerning the metropolis supervisor not informing us when she proposed the appointment,” Harrison stated.

Berkeley Metropolis Supervisor Dee Williams-Ridley.

(Metropolis of Berkeley)

Different members of the Metropolis Council didn’t reply to requests for remark. The mayor, metropolis supervisor and metropolis spokesman additionally didn’t reply to a number of requests for remark.

Harrison stated she didn’t “prejudge” Louis however believed the council ought to have been knowledgeable of the allegations, which might issue into its determination whether or not to substantiate Louis as chief constable.

Though the written reprimand was faraway from Louis’ personnel file in 2020, a metropolis official instructed The Occasions that town supervisor ought to have knowledgeable the council “so that they have all of the related info to [the] to vote.”

Louis was accused in 2017 by then-Berkeley Police Officer Heather Haney of creating inappropriate feedback at a SWAT staff social gathering. An unbiased investigator employed by town continued Haney’s criticism in opposition to Louis, saying she violated town’s harassment coverage. However after Luis’s attraction, the mayor lowered the punishment to a written reprimand, which discovered that Luis had engaged in “unprofessional conduct.”

Two different girls claimed that Louis made advances after which retaliated in opposition to them when she was rejected. The claims of those girls had been discovered in the course of the investigation to be unsubstantiated.

Though then-Police Chief Andrew Greenwood moved to droop Louis for 5 days following the investigation, town supervisor later decided {that a} written reprimand was ample, together with one-on-one coaching on “skilled and respectful communication within the office.”

Louis denied all of the claims made in opposition to her. Some present and former members of the Police Division interviewed by The Occasions expressed their help for Luis, and stated she is being unfairly focused with baseless claims by those that don’t need her to grow to be chief.

Berkeley has spent greater than a yr looking for a brand new chief of the Police Division after Greenwood retires in 2021. Louis and two different candidates had been interviewed extensively as a part of the method. The 20-month seek for a brand new chief included no point out of the investigation into sexual harassment claims in opposition to Louis, based on officers acquainted with the method.

Board President Moore stated members will focus on the allegations raised in The Occasions article at their subsequent public assembly, on January 9.

The board is at the moment investigating the leak of apparently racist textual content messages despatched by the top of the police union, and can take into account on the January 9 assembly whether or not to incorporate the costs in opposition to Luis of their investigation.

“These allegations have by no means been introduced to the board no less than since I got here on board in 2019,” stated Nathan Mizell, the board’s former vp. “By no means got here at any a part of the interview course of to grow to be chief. By no means introduced it to our consideration [in] anyway from the mayor.”

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