A California Highway Patrol plane circled South Berkeley on Thursday morning beginning around 6 a.m. then left before 7 a.m., according to flight logs. Screenshots: Sean Rouse

Update, 1:56 p.m.: The early morning law-enforcement activity in Berkeley was part of a multi-county effort to make arrests in connection to gang incidents, said the Oakland Police Department.

The effort, which spanned Alameda, Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties, resulted in 12 arrests related to violent crimes, said OPD Acting Deputy Chief Roland Holmgren in a video statement.

Holmgren said the multiple agencies involved — including the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice — were going after an “infamous west Oakland gang we believe and feel very confident was responsible for terrorizing our communities.”

Original story, 7:14 a.m.: A loud, low-flying California Highway Patrol airplane woke many Berkeley residents up Thursday morning.

The plane was “assisting serving warrants” in Berkeley, said CHP Officer Eric Anderson around 6:40 a.m. Anderson said he was unsure which law enforcement agency the plane was assisting.

“We work with multiple agencies. I just know it’s in the city of Berkeley,” Anderson said.

Around 8 a.m. KTVU reported that the Oakland Police Department and the FBI were conducting morning operations in multiple locations around the city. Around 9 a.m. the Oakland Police Department confirmed, in an email to Berkeleyside, that its officers “and other law enforcement agencies are serving criminal search warrants throughout the city of Oakland and other neighboring cities.” A spokesman for the department declined to provide more information.


The low loops in Berkeley began at 6 a.m. or earlier, to the chagrin of many sleeping people. Flight radar logs show the plane was in South Berkeley, corroborating reports from many who live in the neighborhood.

Twitter was abuzz with disgruntled Berkeley residents Thursday morning.

“Any idea why there a small plane doing donuts over my house in central Berkeley at 6:00 in the morning?” asked Twitter user @mbeisen.

“This seriously needs to stop,” responded @emdeeay.

“Airplane has been circling over Ashby and Sacramento for over an hour. WHY???” tweeted user @sjadams131 at 6:33 a.m.

One person reported seeing both CHP and tactical police officers on the ground on Russell Street. BPD said its officers were not on the scene.


Initially some had suggested the plane could be connected to Fleet Week, occurring all this week in San Francisco. A volunteer who did not want to give his name said the plane was “absolutely not” connected to the event.

“That’s not us, we don’t start flying till noon,” he said.

Shortly after 6:30 a.m., the plane left the South Berkeley area.

“Thanks flying buddy, my alarm just went off and you are finally gone. Wth,” tweeted @DeirdreDPT.

Anderson said the plane will “probably move around.”

This story was updated as more information was provided.

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Natalie Orenstein

Natalie Orenstein reports on housing and homelessness for The Oaklandside. Natalie was a Berkeleyside staff reporter from early 2017 to May 2020. She had previously contributed to the site since 2012,...