BERKELEY (KPIX) — A Berkeley city councilman is apologizing for his treatment of a police officer who pulled him over last month. At one point during the traffic stop, the lawmaker brought up the issue of how much officers are paid.
“I overreacted. I’m deeply sorry,” said councilman Ben Bartlett, who represents Berkeley’s District 3. Officer Stephanie Cole was the one who had the interaction with Bartlett.READ MORE: Drought By The Numbers: Energy Release Component Is Already At Late September Levels
On July 19, Officer Cole pulled Bartlett over for reportedly running a red light. The city of Berkeley gave KPIX an audio recording of the traffic stop interaction.
“Hi there. So that was a red light. Obviously, not safe at all,” said Cole when she stopped the councilman.
“I’m super sorry. I know. I was late. I’m Ben Bartlett, city council person. There’s a meeting right now. Kriss Worthington is retiring. So I was rushing to get there. And I was moving. The light changed. I’m so sorry,” said Bartlett.
Bartlett forgot his wallet at home, so he didn’t have his driver’s license. He also couldn’t find his insurance paperwork.
Bartlett, who was seemingly in a rush and visibly frustrated, then brought up how he worked hard to get officers like Cole higher pay.
“Is this really necessary? You know, we’re voting on your contract right now and I took a big stand to get you a raise,” said Bartlett.
The local newspaper Berkelyside reported that he was referring to the police contract that was being negotiated by city officials at the time.READ MORE: North Bay Homeowners Scramble to Prepare Properties for Long Fire Season
Officer Cole gave Bartlett a warning on the alleged red light violation and failure to provide insurance. She also gave him a fix-it ticket for not carrying a driver’s license. The councilman got even more upset.
“Breaking my [expletive] to give you guys the biggest raise possible. This is how you repay me?” said Bartlett.
“Sir, don’t make this personal. It’s not,” said Cole. Afterward, Cole dismissed Bartlett after handing him a citation.
Bartlett was apologetic after the encounter.
“I want to apologize to the officer and all the officers. Let them know I support them,” he said.
Bartlett, a south Berkeley native, was elected in 2016. He has been advocating for affordable housing to stop displacement. He ran unsuccessfully for a state assembly seat earlier this year.
“I feel like I’ve let everyone down. And my action was inexcusable. I want to do better and I promise to do better,” he said.MORE NEWS: Rapping Senior Citizen Dancers Beat Back Asian Hate in San Francisco Chinatown
Some people believe that the councilman got off easy with only a warning over the alleged red light violation. The city said Cole acted professionally and that each officer has the discretion on whether to hand out a ticket or a verbal warning.