Berkeley police bike patrol officers
Berkeley police Sgt. Darren Kacalek, center, stands with members of the department’s Bike Detail. He remained on leave even after outside investigators completed their probe into text messages a former officer said showed evidence of bias and quotas. Credit: BPD

The city-hired lawyers probing allegations of bias and arrest quotas by a Berkeley Police Department supervisor found no conclusive evidence that the department engaged in any of those behaviors, according to a city spokesperson.

While Berkeley has released the investigators’ main findings, it is keeping most of the details of the investigation confidential.

After former police Officer Corey Shedoudy sent the City Council a series of text messages, purportedly between officers on the department’s bike squad, that included racist and anti-homeless remarks, the city hired San Francisco-based Swanson and McNamara LLP to conduct an independent investigation, a $50,000 contract.

The supervisor accused of sending the offending messages, Sgt. Darren Kacalek, was put on administrative leave as the investigation unfolded. He remained on leave Thursday but will return to duty “in the near future,” said city spokesman Matthai Chakko. Kacalek will be working in the department’s patrol unit.

According to city spokesperson Matthai Chakko, Swanson and McNamara’s investigation found that:

  • The department does not have a practice of racial bias
  • The department does not have any arrest quotas
  • The department follows state law and Constitutional law when it comes to enforcement of protective orders
  • The department has existing policies that prohibit discrimination and harassment of protected classes.

City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley sent a summary of Swanson and McNamara’s investigation to the City Council in a memo Thursday.

The outside attorneys reported that a third-party vendor had reviewed Shedoudy’s messages — although they did not refer to him by name — and “confirmed the authenticity of each message” he had sent, except for one that the vendor could not find in Shedoudy’s phone, according to their summary.

The investigators also reviewed arrest data for the bike team and its predecessor, the Downtown Task Force, from Oct. 1, 2019, through Nov. 22, 2020, corresponding with Shedoudy’s time on those assignments, according to the summary. They interviewed Shedoudy and other officers as well, they said.

“To maintain the confidentiality of personnel files, we prepared a confidential report summarizing our investigation and stating our factual findings,” the memo concluded. “We provided that report to the city for further action on the allegations.

Chakko said the City Attorney’s Office had determined the one-page summary was all the city could release publicly. He also said state law forbade him from saying whether any officer had faced discipline as a result of the allegations and ensuing investigation.

In a prepared statement, Chief Jen Louis said the police department had already made progress towards policies that would ensure equitable treatment for all, and that “I remain committed to supporting a culture that reinforces these principles.

“We are always open to improving. We’ve updated many policies over the past couple years,” Louis said. “We will continue to see if there are policies we need to strengthen to ensure fair and equitable treatment for all.”

The allegations against Kacalek derailed Louis’s confirmation as chief for several months. It had been first scheduled for November but was pulled from the council’s agenda after Shedoudy’s accusations came to light. She had run the department in an interim capacity following the 2021 retirement of her predecessor, former Chief Andrew Greenwood.

Williams-Ridley and Louis said in November, and again when Louis was confirmed in May, that Louis had not known about the alleged behavior and would not have stood for it if she had.

Chakko reiterated that Thursday.

Louis, at the time a captain, “was overseeing an entirely different part of the police department and had no command authority over the unit in question,” and “to my understanding had no knowledge of the allegations prior to when (Shedoudy’s) email was sent.”

Shedoudy was fired from the department in August 2021 after an investigation determined he had deliberately crashed his police bike into a Toyota Camry while on duty, then lied about the circumstances of the crash. An independent arbitrator upheld the firing in April.

Meanwhile, a subcommittee of the Police Accountability Board has been conducting a policy review on the Downtown Task Force and bike unit. That review remains ongoing.

Alex N. Gecan joined Berkeleyside in 2023 as a senior reporter covering public safety. He has covered criminal justice, courts and breaking and local news for The Middletown Press, Stamford Advocate and...