While Berkeley Council Votes on Hiring New Police Chief, Some Ask for More Transparency

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Capt. Andrew Greenwood — who is now acting chief — at a BPD promotion ceremony in 2013 (file photo). (Emilie Raguso/Berkeleyside)

The Berkeley City Council plans to vote Tuesday night to hire interim Police Chief Andrew Greenwood to fill the role permanently.

Unlike Oakland and San Francisco — which also recently hired new chiefs — Berkeley did not undergo a national search to find Greenwood, who has more than 30 years experience at Berkeley Police Department.

Greenwood has engaged with a wide range of community members and groups over the last six months, said City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley.

"His skills, experience and sense of commitment have demonstrated an ability to serve Berkeley according to its progressive, community-focused values," Williams-Ridley said in an email through a city spokesman.

Greenwood would replace Michael Meehan, who served as chief for about seven years before he retired abruptly last fall. While Meehan did not give a specific reason for his departure, there was a series of controversies during his leadership. A police staff survey also found low morale among police employees, according to Berkeleyside.

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While the City Council prepares to vote on Greenwood's hire, some have been critical about the lack of oversight and public input leading up to the hiring decision.

Andrea Prichett, a member of Berkeley Copwatch, said in an email to KQED that she sent a letter to the city asking for a more "democratic process" in hiring the next police chief. Prichett said she's not criticizing Greenwood, but she's concerned that a hiring committee was not established and public input was not sought.

"Especially at this time in our nation’s history, it is important to take a serious look at where the people of this city want to go. Then the city should hire people and direct resources that can support the democratically chosen course. Public participation and transparency is essential throughout this entire process," Prichett said in her letter.

Others feel that a national search or more public input would be unnecessary and costly.

"Because we have someone who understands Berkeley and has good relationships with a wide range of people, we'd end up with the same result," said City Councilman Kriss Worthington.

Greenwood began his law enforcement career with Berkeley PD in 1986 as a trainee. He's held several roles in the department, including being promoted to police captain in 2012 before he was tapped as interim police chief.

Worthington hopes that Greenwood will work with the city and the new City Council to reform its police accountability system, which he believes is outdated.

"I think he will work with us and help us craft Berkeley-type policies that work," he said.

Greenwood's salary would be $19,192 a month, according to a memo that Williams-Ridley wrote to the City Council. That comes to more than $230,000 a year.

Greenwood could not be reached for comment. Officials with the Berkeley Police Association also could not be reached for comment.