Berkeley Police Department

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Coordinates: 37°52′11.73″N 122°16′22.71″W / 37.8699250°N 122.2729750°W / 37.8699250; -122.2729750

Berkeley Police Department
Agency overview
Legal jurisdictionMunicipal

Sworn members182
Unsworn members110
Agency executive
Official website
Berkeley Police Department, Ronald Tsukamoto Public Safety Building interior

The Berkeley Police Department (BPD) is the municipal police department for the city of Berkeley, California, USA.


Shortly after Berkeley was incorporated in 1878, a town marshal and constables were elected to provide law enforcement. In 1909, the town marshal was appointed to be the first chief of police. August Vollmer had been the town marshal since 1905, and when he became the first chief, he provided the department with a strong ethical code.[1] He remained chief until he retired in 1932, although he left from 1923 to 1924 when briefly appointed the chief of the Los Angeles Police Department.

In 2012, the Department provoked controversy when Chief Meehan ordered a plainclothes officer to the home of journalist Doug Oakley at 12:45 a.m. to request he make changes to a story.[2] After this was widely condemned as potential intimidation, Chief Meehan apologized.[3] Another controversy arouse over Chief Meehan's conduct when in 2010 he solicited a $500,000 housing loan from the public funds to purchase an expensive house in Berkeley, at 3% rate, below market rate. The City Council member Lawrence Capitelli who voted in support of the loan later became Chief Meehan's real estate agent on the house purchase.[4] On September 20, 2016, Meehan abruptly resigned his post. He gave no reason for the resignation, but the local newspaper Berkeleyside had previously reported on dissatisfaction and low morale among BPD officers. Captain Andrew Greenwood was made acting chief.[5]


The following is a list of important events in the department's history, as provided on the department's website:

  • 1906 — Installed a basic records system, which was one of the first in the United States.
  • 1906 — Installed the first Modus Operandi (MO) System
  • 1907 — First use of scientific investigation method in the "Kelinschmidt case" (analysis of blood, fibers and soil)
  • 1907 — Department's police school was established. It included instruction from professors on such subjects as the law and evidence procedures. This was the first school of its kind in the world and had a far reaching effect on law enforcement.
  • 1911 — Organized the first Police Motorcycle Patrol
  • 1913 — Changed to automobiles for patrolling
  • 1916 — Chief Vollmer established the first School of Criminology at University of California, Berkeley and was a strong advocate of college-educated police officers.
  • 1918 — Began using intelligence tests in recruiting police officers
  • 1920 — First lie detector instrument was developed at University of California, Berkeley by John A. Larson and used by BPD
  • 1921 — Began using a psychiatric screening in recruitment
  • 1923 — First Junior Traffic Police Program was established
  • 1924 — Established one of the first single fingerprint systems
  • 1925 — Established the department's first Crime Prevention Division and hired the department's first female police officer

External links[edit]


  1. ^ History
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Raguso, Emilie. "Berkeley police chief resigns". Retrieved 3 October 2016.