Berkeley City Manager Christine Daniel said Friday that the city has hired a law firm to conduct an independent investigation of Police Chief Michael Meehan's decision to send an officer to a reporter's home in the middle of the night to demand a correction to a story.
Daniel said the city retained the San Francisco-based law firm Renne Sloan Holtzman Sakai on Monday and the "process will be conducted to
Meehan has come under fire for sending police spokeswoman Sgt. Mary Kusmiss to the home of Oakland Tribune reporter Doug Oakley at 12:45
a.m. on March 9 to ask him to correct a story he had posted online a short time earlier about a community meeting attended by about 150 people the night of March 8.
Oakley's story said Meehan had apologized at the meeting for the department's slow response to the Feb. 18 slaying of Berkeley hills homeowner Peter Cukor, who had called police to report that there was an intruder in his garage.
The story upset Meehan, who had not apologized for a slow response and said his officers responded appropriately to the situation on Feb. 18.
Instead, Meehan apologized at the meeting for failing to quickly release information to the community about the killing, saying that his
department's slowness resulted in the news media spreading information that "was not accurate or true."
The Oakland Tribune said in an editorial this week that Oakley had misinterpreted Meehan's remarks and it corrected his story.
But the newspaper also said that Meehan overreacted by sending Kusmiss to Oakley's home in the middle of the night.
After the incident, Meehan issued a statement apologizing for his actions, saying, "I was frustrated with the department's ability to get out timely information, but that is no excuse."
Before Daniel's announcement Friday that the city has hired the law firm to investigate Meehan's actions, the Berkeley Police Association, which represents the city's police officers, issued a statement saying that city officials were engaging in "a double standard" by not conducting a probe of the chief.
Bay City News