The Chief of Police in Berkeley, California sent three detectives, one sergeant and a whole drug task force — all of them earning overtime pay — out into the January night to search for his son’s stolen iPhone, according to a report published Monday evening.
The complaint against Chief Michael Meehan was the subject of discussion at a recent meeting of the Berkeley Police Review Commission, a citizen watchdog group.
“If your cell phone was stolen or my cell phone was stolen, I don’t think any officer would be investigating it,” the group’s vice chairman, Michael Sherman, said during the meeting, according to Oakland Tribune reporter Kristin J. Bender. “They have more important things to do. We have crime in the streets.”
As Berkeley officers searched for the phone, following its GPS signal into Oakland, officers there reportedly dispatched members of a drug task force to aid the detectives’ search. No police report was ever written up regarding the incident and, despite having locating software installed, the chief’s son never had his phone returned.
An inquiry began after reporters started asking questions about the overtime pay. Those questions are bound to hurt Meehan’s reputation, especially with an ongoing, city-sponsored investigation into his last controversy. Meehan’s conduct in office came under scrutiny as recently as March, after he dispatched an officer to a reporter’s home in the middle of the night to request a correction to a published report.
Although Meehan later apologized to the reporter, the Tribune‘s report notes that the city has since spent “roughly $25,000” leading a probe of the incident.