Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Berkeley chief defends police search for son's stolen iPhone

May 24, 2012 |  7:00 am

Berkeley's police chief, criticized for sending officers -- some on overtime -- to Oakland to look for his son's stolen iPhone, has defended his actions, saying he thought the search was "worth it."

Chief Michael Meehan made headlines this week after the San Francisco Chronicle reported he sent regular officers and those from a drug task force to look for the phone, which was taken from a Berkeley High School locker room Jan. 11.

The phone's tracking software led police to a North Oakland intersection, but the phone wasn't found.

The Chronicle said many officers had been "grumbling" about the search, which involved as many as 10 officers and included Meehan himself. Sgt. Mary Kusmiss, a police spokeswoman, said four detectives were paid overtime for the incident.

Meehan -- who drew criticism and a legal investigation after sending Kusmiss to a reporter's home to ask for changes to a story in March -- defended his actions in an interview with the Oakland Tribune, saying he felt the case of the missing iPhone was handled appropriately.

Meehan did not provide the Tribune with statistics on police staffing and responses during the hours when his son's phone was taken, but said in two other cases of stolen iPhones, 11 officers responded.

"I think it was worth it," he said, when asked about the cost of the search for his son's phone.

But the response wasn't specific to his son, Meehan told the newspaper, saying Berkeley residents should expect the same police work based on the resources available at the time.

Meehan said the incident drew media attention because "it's the chief's son, so it's different."

"But I don't understand why it has been cast this way," he said. "The facts are very straightforward."

When asked if he felt his job was secure after the second controversy in recent months, Meehan said it was a "great question for the city manager."


Shoppers have mixed feelings about L.A. plastic bag ban

15-year-old girl escapes would-be kidnapper on walk to school

Elton John treated at L.A. hospital for 'serious' respiratory infection

-- Kate Mather