Report: Berkeley councilman, during traffic stop, suggested officer let him go because he voted in favor of police raise

Berkeley Councilmember Ben Bartlett, after being pulled over last July for running a red light, suggested to a Berkeley police officer that she give him preferential treatment because he had voted to give the city’s police officers a raise recently during closed session negotiations with their union, Berkeleyside reported Thursday.

Bartlett, who was a candidate last June in the 15th Assembly District primary race, was only given a warning  for failing to stop at the red light and a fix-it ticket for not being able to produce identification, according to the website.

The traffic stop occurred as Bartlett was rushing to attend an event that would eventually include fellow Berkeley Councilmember Kriss Worthington announcing he would not seek re-election this fall.

“Is this really necessary?” Bartlett told the officer. “You know, we’re voting on your contract right now.”

“Breaking my balls [to] give you guys the biggest raise possible,” Bartlett continued. “This how you repay me?”

Bartlett said he called Berkeley Police Chief Andrew Greenwood during the traffic stop, according to Berkeleyside, which had acquired the officer’s recording of the incident through a public records request.

During the 15th Assembly District primary campaign, Bartlett had placed the unfair treatment of African Americans when it comes to a number of socio-economic issues at the top of his assembly platform, in addition, to the history of poor behavior by law enforcement against the same community.

In a statement to the website, Bartlett echoed some of these issues, while apologizing for his conduct last month. “I was pulled over by police and like many professional black men, I felt the need to immediately identify myself as a professional and as a civil servant to avoid being profiled and to protect myself. In hindsight, I realize that what I said was not appropriate.”

 

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