Berkeley’s police oversight board and a law firm that has taken on several high-profile investigations into local law enforcement are now conducting parallel inquiries into allegations of misconduct by the head of the city’s police union.

City spokesman Matthai Chakko said in an emailed statement Thursday afternoon that Berkeley is hiring the San Francisco firm Swanson and McNamara to carry out the independent review top officials promised after allegations from a former officer became public last month. The investigation, which will be led by attorney Ed Swanson, has gotten underway as the city finalizes a contract for the work.

“The alleged behavior is contrary to the values of our police department and our city,” Chakko wrote in the emailed statement. “The gravity of these allegations also requires that the investigation be high-quality, neutral, fair and thorough.”

Meanwhile, Berkeley’s Police Accountability Board has appointed a subcommittee to examine the allegations, which held its first meeting last week, with a plan to focus on department policies and practices.

Officer Corey Shedoudy, a former member of the department’s Downtown Task Force and Bike Detail who was fired last year, alleged in a Nov. 10 email to city officials that Sgt. Darren Kacalek, who led those units and was the head of the Berkeley Police Association, pressured officers under his command to meet monthly arrest quotas. Shedoudy also shared dozens of text messages he said came from Kacalek that included offensive remarks about homeless residents and people of color. And Shedoudy claimed Interim Police Chief Jen Louis failed to thoroughly investigate his allegations.

Several key questions remain unanswered nearly a month after Shedoudy contacted city leaders — including whether his claims of a quota system are accurate, whether Kacalek was the person who sent the offensive messages, and what, if anything, Louis knew about that conduct.

Kacalek has been placed on paid administrative leave, and has stepped down from his leadership role in the union. City officials have paused a plan to appoint Louis the city’s permanent police chief as the investigations unfold.

Berkeleyside has not been able to contact Shedoudy, who is appealing his firing, or Kacalek.

Members of the Police Accountability Board’s subcommittee said during their first meeting on Nov. 29 that they plan to investigate the validity of Shedoudy’s allegations, and whether the department needs to change any of its policies as a result.

But the civilian oversight board’s inquiry — which is considered a policy review, rather than an incident investigation — is not expected to lead to discipline recommendations for Kacalek or anyone else, according to PAB Director Hansel Aguilar. Those would instead come from the Swanson investigation.

“The recommendations that would come out of here are involving policies and how to improve them,” Aguilar said in an interview.

In his statement, Chakko noted Swanson’s “significant experience in internal investigations, including being appointed by federal courts to conduct investigations into issues related to officer misconduct and discipline within the Oakland Police Department and the California Department of Corrections [and Rehabilitation].”

Those investigations included a scathing report on how Oakland police leadership mishandled their inquiry into officers who sexually assaulted and trafficked an underage girl known by the name Celeste Guap, as well as a 2018 fatal shooting that drew scrutiny for officers’ tactics, according to reporting from the East Bay Express and KQED.

Chakko’s statement did not say how long officials believe the Swanson inquiry will take. The Police Accountability Board subcommittee also did not lay out a timeline because, chair Cheryl Owens said at the meeting last week, “I don’t know where this is going to lead.”

Nico Savidge joined Berkeleyside in 2021 as a senior reporter covering city hall. Born and raised in Berkeley, he got his start in journalism at Youth Radio as a high-schooler in the mid-2000s. Since then,...