Just 15 days into his training with the Berkeley Police Department, a young officer made a traffic stop last week that resulted in the seizure of a handgun sporting an extended magazine, and nearly 60 stolen credit, debit or gift cards, along with a small amount of marijuana.
A 19-year-old Hayward man and a 23-year-old Oakland man remain in custody this week and have been charged with numerous felonies related to the firearm and burglary.
Last Wednesday, just after 3:40 p.m., Officer Kyle Ludovico and his training officer, Tim Gardner, responded to the 2400 block of Warring Street for a report of an auto burglary, said Officer Byron White, a Berkeley Police spokesman.
During an area search, Ludovico spotted two men in a vehicle matching the one described as having been used by the burglars. They were near Channing Way and Milvia Street when police tried to stop them.
White said the men kept driving for several blocks, but ultimately pulled over at Oregon and Grant streets.
“When Ludovico and Gardner contacted the suspects inside the car, they noticed broken glass inside the car as well as the smell of marijuana. When officers searched the car, they discovered a handgun with an extended magazine as well as nearly 60 suspected stolen credit/debit/gift cards and a quantity of marijuana,” White said.
The handgun was loaded and unregistered, according to court records.
The men were identified as 19-year-old Theron Brooks and 23-year-old William Joseph III. Joseph is being held on $100,000 bail at Santa Rita Jail and is facing multiple firearm charges, including possession of a firearm by a felon. Brooks is being held, also at Santa Rita, on $45,000 bail.
Both could be sent to prison if convicted. They are scheduled for a pretrial hearing Feb. 7.
Sgt. Mary Kusmiss, of the Berkeley Police Department, said it’s unusual for an officer-in-training to handle a case with so many elements.
“There are a lot of crimes he had the opportunity to investigate,” she said. “Stolen property, a loaded handgun, an auto burglary. And, at this stage in someone’s career, these are benchmarks or milestones they remember throughout their career.”
The BPD field training program generally lasts at least 16 weeks. Every officer who is hired by the department must succeed in it to be assigned to the streets on his or her own. Over the months, the officer-in-training is supervised and mentored by several different training officers who are chosen for the assignment.
Kusmiss said an officer-in-training is asked to do about 20% of the work as compared to the training officer. At times, they are primarily observers, but Kusmiss said, if they feel confident, the supervising officer can give the green light for more authority.
Kusmiss said perhaps one in six officers don’t make it past this part of the process, which follows the police academy for new recruits. There are currently nine officers in training at BPD, which has about 34 trainers. Another four new trainees are set to begin in March.
While other departments have higher-stress programs, Kusmiss described Berkeley’s field training program as “really predicated on fostering the officer-in-training’s success.” That’s not to say there isn’t stress, however.
“They are being evaluated every single day, all day,” she said.