Berkeley Police Chief Resigns -- 4th Top Cop to Quit in Bay Area Since May

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Former Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan announced his resignation on Wednesday, Sept. 21. (City of Berkeley Website)

Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan has resigned, marking the fourth head of a Bay Area police department to leave his or her post since May.

Meehan did not give a specific reason for his sudden departure.

"While there is no good time to leave an organization you have such respect and admiration for, there is a right time," Meehan wrote in a resignation letter he posted to Twitter Wednesday. "I believe, after discussing with my family, the time is now.”

Though Meehan wrote in the Sept. 20 letter that he intends to resign in mid-October, Berkeley City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley wrote to city leadership Wednesday that she had accepted Meehan's resignation and appointed Capt. Andrew Greenwood to acting police chief.

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"It's a particularly bad time for police chiefs in the Bay Area," Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates said Wednesday. He praised Meehan's seven-year tenure leading the 170-officer force. "He's been here for a while, and after a while, they wear out their welcome."

Bates reiterated the Police Department's accomplishments described in Meehan's letter, including leading the department in an early adoption of specialized training for de-escalating encounters with people in psychiatric distress -- called Crisis Intervention Training.

The letter doesn't mention a pending federal civil rights lawsuit over the in-custody death of Kayla Moore, a transgender woman with schizophrenia who died after a scuffle with Berkeley police in her downtown apartment in 2013.

The Police Department's investigation cleared the officers who responded to Moore's apartment of any wrongdoing, but the city's Police Review Commission, a civilian oversight body, recommended discipline for the lead officers on the scene. Jury selection in a federal civil trial over Moore's death is tentatively set for mid-October.

Meehan caught heat in 2012 for mobilizing a strong police response to recover his son's stolen iPhone, and for sending a Police Department spokeswoman to a reporter's home to demand changes to a story about the incident.

The Berkeley Police Department's crowd-control tactics and "Get'um running" directive concerning protesters of police violence also generated controversy.

"BPD followed the difficult protests of December 2014 with a candid, comprehensive and public self-examination and plan for improvements," Meehan wrote in his resignation letter. "This is one of the hallmarks of a great organization."

Meehan also noted the Police Department's push to collect racial-stop data.

Meehan's departure marks the fourth exit of a Bay Area police chief in recent months.

Former San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr resigned May 19 after a string of controversial police shootings. Former Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent resigned with a late-night email June 9 amid a police sexual exploitation scandal that has since spread to multiple Bay Area law enforcement agencies. Hayward Police Chief Diane Stuart was placed on paid leave Aug. 29 while that city manager's office conducts a personnel investigation.

Read the Berkeley city manager's letter below:

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