Berkeley’s People’s Cop Commands Compliance

by Steed Dropout
April 23, 2015

Butt-Head outside Caffe Med. Photo by Ted Friedman.

To call one Berkeley patrolman a people’s cop could be misleading, when so many of Berkeley’s cops are people’s cops.

But the Berkeley cop who sees his job as “protecting the people of Berkeley from the police,” and stubbornly refuses to write citations…that cop lays special claim to the title, People’s Cop.

The Berkeley People’s Cop has been rebuked, threatened with re-training, and with suspension by his supervisor for his unproductive citations record, he told Berkeley Reporter, recently.

“Why should I write a ticket when I get compliance?” People’s Cop asked me. “Isn’t compliance the goal of good policing?”

Facing non-compliance outside the Caffe Mediterraneum, last week, People’s-Cop was between rock and hard place, the other day.


People's Cop smells smoke Photo by Ted Friedman.

People’s Cop was near the doorway of Berkeley’s Telegraph Avenue Caffe Mediterraneum when he saw a smoker seated on his butt on the sidewalk puffing on one–a cigarette butt.

Sitting on the pavement is legal; smoking on it is not, at least not in any of Berkeley’s business districts.

“I pleaded with the guy,” People’s Cop told me. “I don’t want to cite you!”

The smoker persisted, almost insolently, according to our photo.

Berkeley Reporter watched the whole incident go down, looking in disbelief as People’s Cop took his neglected citations pad from his rear pocket, to which it was glued.

“Is he actually going to cite?” I wondered.

He was and he did.

Berkeley Cop cites. Photo by Ted Friedman.


Cop surveillance on Telegraph. Photo by Ted Friedman.

People’s Cop has been a main force in a continuing crackdown on Telegraph Avenue, which–periodically–has cleared Telegraph of transient youth, for which Telegraph is home sweet home.

In response to People’s Cop and his cop colleagues’ Telegraph sweep, Telegraph transients have developed evasive cop-coping strategies. Just the sight of the People’s Cop car often scatters the transients to nearby People’s Park or downtown.

A cop across the street, lurking, sometimes, in a doorway staking out the transients also clears them out. Still, the transients have settled into a half-block intransigent lifestyle.

The People’s Cop tells transients and harmless drunks to “go downtown,” Berkeley Reporter has observed.

“Isn’t that unconstitutional?” we asked.

The People’s Cop replied with a wide grin.

When the People’s Cop goes off shift at 6p, the transients return for their evening of side-walk-crowding drink, drugs, music and street adventures.

[After crackdown, transients return]

The transients is a mostly mellow community of street people/craftsmen with similar interests–near Telegraph/Haste outside Amoeba, an independent music/video purveyor. Still, the not-so-transient transients have irked nearby businesses and can be a daunting hurdle for pedestrians.

Petty pugilism breaks out sporadically but is usually quelled by the transients themselves.
City of Berkeley mental health outreach teams show up weekly to assist the transients, who are well fed, by various agencies, some who deliver.

Mental Health check. Photo by Ted Friedman.

As one Telegraph business-owner told me, the other day, “they scare people away” from shopping at his store.

Enter the People’s Cop and his colleagues.

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