Whatever his intentions, Chief Michael Meehan's actions have put Berkeley and its police force in an unwelcome national spotlight.
This is not the kind of attention Michael Meehan wanted. Then again, it's unlikely the citizens of Berkeley wanted their police officers using overtime to search for his son's lost cell phone.
Actions taken by Meehan, who took over as the chief of police in Berkeley following 23 years as a cop in Seattle, will cost Berkeley taxpayers $39,000 in legal costs and investigation fees, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
That includes $15,000 spent on a law firm to investigate Meehan's actions after he sent a sergeant to a reporter's home after midnight on a day in March to correct a story, and after it was revealed on-duty cops -- including narcotics officers -- used overtime to search for his son's stolen iPhone in January, the newspaper reported.
Whatever his intentions, Meehan's actions have put Berkeley and its police force in an unwelcome national spotlight.
Meehan denied that his son received preferential treatment, and he reassured the newspaper that he remains focused on the community.
However, the slaying of Peter Cukor, 67, remains unsolved after he was found bludgeoned to death 15 minutes after reporting an intruder on his property on Feb. 18, the newspaper reported.
It was a news story in the Oakland Tribune with which Meehan disagreed that compelled him to send a police officer to the reporter's home after midnight to request a change.
Berkeley politicians have declined to say much about Meehan's fate. But forces working for the police force itself have not minced words.
"Chief Meehan's indiscretions, which expose a pattern of serious flaws in judgment, have unfortunately caused the national media to focus on the city of Berkeley as the example of poor police decision-making," Rocky Lucia, an attorney representing the Berkeley Police Association told the newspaper. "The reputation of the Police Department has seriously suffered since Chief Meehan's arrival."