California

UC Berkeley cops slept during night shifts, university says. They’re fired

Students walk past Sather Gate on the University of California, Berkeley campus on April 21, 2017.
Students walk past Sather Gate on the University of California, Berkeley campus on April 21, 2017. The Associated Press

Six UC Berkeley police officers were fired by the university Tuesday for sleeping and hanging out in a campus library during midnight shifts, the Mercury News reported.

The officers were “administratively charged with lying” after authorities discovered they were going to an on-campus math library after radioing that they were checking other buildings, the Mercury News reported.

The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office did not charge the officers with time theft, according to the Mercury News. The officers have been on paid leave since Oct. 31.

Wayne Tucker, a retired Oakland police chief, told the newspaper that the number of officers fired for one incident is large, especially considering the small size of UC Berkeley’s force — approximately 40 sworn officers.

The officers were caught when investigators planted a hidden camera and a microphone in the library, reported KTVU. The hidden electronics confirmed that officers lounged on the couch or on two chairs, according to the television station.

“Over the years, there are times when a cop needs to take a nap and usually a partner is there doing paperwork, and if there’s a call someone can go out,” retired Berkeley police officer Matthew Meredith told KTVU.

He also told the television station that he thinks the officers could’ve kept their jobs and just gotten reprimanded if they’d been honest.

Howard Jordan, a former Oakland police lieutenant, told CBS San Francisco that the dishonesty is what forced the terminations.

“Lying about it is sort of like a cardinal sin,” Jordan said. “You’re not credible anymore.”

The officers’ lawyers dispute the allegations.

“The only parties who know what was alleged are the UC administration and the affected officers and their attorneys,” Sean Howell, an attorney with the Mastagni Holstedt law firm that is co-representing the six officers with attorney Sean Currin, said in an emailed statement. “Therefore, whomever this information is coming from is not a source with any knowledge of the actual facts of the case or the reasons for the dismissals.”

Howell went on to say in his email that the process will move to arbitration, “where all of the actual facts will be presented.”

“I feel confident that once the truth is presented, these officers will be back to work,” he wrote.

CBS reported that the allegations against the officers happened during a time when there was a slew of on-campus sexual assaults, including one near a dorm.

“Just the other night, I heard someone through the window before I went to sleep, yelling for help because they were being robbed,” UC Berkeley senior Terry Park told KTVU. “They shouldn’t be sleeping on the job, or hanging around a library.”

This story was updated on July 19, 2018, to include information from the officers’ lawyers.

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