One Man Berkeley Cop-Operation

by Steed Dropout
July 24, 2013


I’m sending this to Michael K. Meehan, Chief of Police, Berkeley Police.

I just witnessed (Wednesday) as fine a work of Berkeley policing as I’ve ever seen.

The man seated near me outside the Cafe Mediterraneum on lower Telegraph, was stark raving mad. Med owner Craig Becker heard the commotion in his mezzanine office and came outside to chase off the guy, who had stowed his gear outside the store.

Officer Brian Mathis, who had been working this case from nearby, drove up and approached the man.

Officer Mathis, background; Raving Man foreground. Note Officer's stance.
Photo by Ted Friedman.

The man barked out what seemed like commands. “I’m directing you,” he said. I have never seen officer Mathis directed by a suspect. At Occupy Berkeley, last year, Mathis was tough.

But this was a side of him I had not seen; he seemed to be humoring the guy, even going into improvised street talk.

At one point, the raving guy said he and the officer were both black.

“I don’t know where he got that,” Mathis told me. “I’m half Portuguese and I’ve been running in the sun.”

You would have thought the two were soul brothers.

How did Mathis do it? He had previously observed the guy from his squad car, noting that the guy was giving Mathis dirty looks and spitting.

So Mathis followed in his car when the guy went to People’s Park and was shoving with Hate Man in Camp Hate.

“Do you have anything for me?” Mathis asked. But “there was nothing.”

Perhaps this told Mathis he could control the guy, which, with a big dose of sweet-talk, he did. The guy left, taking his gear with him.

And don't come back. Photo by Ted Friedman.

I asked Mathis where he had come up with his soul-brother routine. “I got it from sales,” he said. “You try to speak the other guy’s language.”

“I’ve never seen you do this,” I persisted.

“You have to be able to assume the appropriate role,” he explained. “I was ready to get tough if necessary.”

This could have required the usual mass-back up of squad cars. Becker, who has been known to be quick with his fists might have escalated the situation but Mathis controlled the scene with good-natured self-assurance.

P.S. Although Becker was running the lunatic off his property, Officer Mathis said that the man had the constitutional right to free speech. I told you they were soul brothers.

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