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Berkeley police spokesperson to return to patrol duty

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JUNE 06, 2012

Berkeley Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Mary Kusmiss — who was thrust into the spotlight when she was sent to the home of a local reporter in March — will switch posts and return to the operations division of the department on June 21.

In an April email, Kusmiss said she would be rotating back to patrol “to allow others to have the opportunity” to fill the position she has occupied on and off for about 10 years.

Kusmiss will work as a supervisor in the division, a capacity she has served in before, and was previously the supervisor of the department’s Community Services Bureau.

In March, Kusmiss was involved in a controversial incident when department Chief Michael Meehan sent her to the home of Oakland Tribune reporter Doug Oakley after midnight to request changes to an article that Meehan felt inaccurately portrayed statements he had made.

As a result of this incident and another — in which Meehan used Berkelely police officers to search for his son’s lost cell phone — the city will spend up to $24,000 for Irvine-based Cornerstone Communications to audit the department’s media policies from May until October, at which time the department can choose to extend the process.

The company will conduct interviews with the department’s senior management and public information team, which includes Kusmiss, and give its first round of recommendations in about a month, according to the company’s contract with the city.

“It has been very rewarding challenging work as media has expanded,” Kusmiss said in an email. “The community is very engaged and there are a variety of events as well as issues in the city of Berkeley.”

Christopher Yee is an assistant news editor.

JUNE 06, 2012

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