A leak of the president of the police officers’ union for the Berkley Police Department texts shows alleged racially insensitive remarks and calls for arrest quotas sending the department in disarray, Noah Goldberg reports for the Los Angeles Times.
City officials confirmed that Sgt. Darren Kacalek, the union president, was placed on administrative leave Wednesday. In addition, he stepped down as union head.
Corey Shedoudy, a fired former police officer, leaked the texts, which he said he obtained while working on getting reinstated.
The messages were made public by an Oakland advocacy group Secure Justice.
Kacalek mentioned drinking alcoholic beverages in one text and joked about a disease that “wipes out the homeless pop.”
In another text, Kacalek says, “81 arrests! We can do 19 by Friday for sure!” likely alluding to making 100 arrests for the month. He later joked about giving punishment to whoever made the least arrests.
Kacalek, in a separate exchange, asked officers if they noticed a similarity between five arrestees. He said they were “all of the same heritage.”
According to the census, nearly 35 percent of police stops in Berkeley last year were of Black people. Yet only 8 percent of the city is Black.
Berkeley Councilmember Ben Bartlett released a statement following the exposed texts.
“When I was on the Police Review Commission, we pushed for new public safety metrics that focus on positive outcomes and results for our communities for a simple reason: what you focus on is what you get,” he said. “Instead of counting arrests, let’s count the number of service calls and reward officers for decreases in calls.”
“Public safety and the integrity of our law enforcement go hand in hand,” he added. “Upholding that integrity requires us to fully investigate these troubling allegations.”
In a similar case this year, a federal judge dismissed most claims in a major NYPD arrest quotas lawsuit, Graham Rayman reported for the New York Daily News.
“I don’t think the perception that quotas run the department is something the police would want out there, “reporter Graham Rayman told the Crime Report in 2013 following his book “NYPD Tapes: A Shocking Story of Cops, Cover-ups, and Courage” that explores modern law enforcement’s obsession with statistics.
Quotas are highly criticized and marred with criticism, but it’s unclear whether the department used them.
“There are other ways to enforce traffic laws, keep people safe, and evaluate police officers as employees without forcing officers to meet arbitrary number requirements.” Jackie Fielding wrote in July, writing for the Brennan Center.
James Van Bramer is TCR’s Associate Editor