Nightlife-Busting Cop Larry Bertrand 'Voluntarily Reassigned' But Still On the Streets
|'No, he's been reassigned...'|
Update: Bertrand may now be in uniform, but he and Ott were spotted together with other police officers on Friday outside a nightclub on 11th Street
Officer Larry Bertrand's controversial policing of nightclubs and underground parties in SOMA made him the subject of two alt weekly cover stories in the past two weeks.
But even before both articles were published, Bertrand was no longer doing plainclothes inspections of nightlife in SOMA, San Francisco Police Department spokeswoman Lieutenant Lyn Tomioka told SF Weekly this morning.
Bertrand "requested to go back to uniform," Tomioka said. She could not give an exact date for the request, but said Bertrand was "voluntarily reassigned" two weeks ago, and that she could not say whether complaints about Bertrand's policing hand prompted the change.
"Captain McDonagh [Bertrand's boss at Southern Station] told me last week that Bertrand had asked to be taken off of inspections," police Commander James Dudley told SF Weekly this afternoon.
This doesn't mean that Bertrand isn't still involved in nightlife policing--he was spotted on a club-heavy strip of 11th Street this Friday, along with his partner, Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Investigator Michelle Ott.
"Investigator Ott has not been reassigned, she will continue to work any and all assignments she receives from her Supervisors in the Bay Area Enforcement Office," ABC spokesman John Carr wrote in an e-mail.
Since this summer, Bertrand and Ott had been working as a plainclothes nightlife enforcement team who kept tabs on nightclubs and busted underground parties.
Their enforcement sparked complaints from nightclub owners, staff, promoters and underground party DJs, all of whom said Bertrand and Ott's policing had crossed the line into harassment. One promoter, Arash Ghanadan, filed suit against Bertrand for wrongful arrest in December. Another group of club owners and staff led by trial attorney Mark Webb have been planning to sue the city and state of San Francisco for racketeering, in part because of Bertrand and Ott's behavior. Webb told SF Weekly on Friday that he was about to file the claim.
As we reported in our cover story earlier this month, club owners said Bertrand and Ott had been showing up at a stretch of clubs on 11th Street every weekend in December, January and early February -- a practice the club owners viewed as harassment. But as of mid-February, club owners told us, Ott and Bertrand had apparently gone on the down-low.
That changed this Friday night, according to the owner of an 11th Street venue, who said he saw Bertrand and Ott together in front of Club Mist at around 10:30.
"She was wearing a police jacket with the patches and he was in full uniform," the source told SF Weekly. "They were standing out on the street with a clip-board taking notes...Apparently, they didn't do anything."
The venue owner said he did not see Ott and Bertrand later that evening, when police officers helped disperse what he called a rowdy but non-violent hip-hop crowd outside of Mist.
Mike Quan, the owner of Mist, as well as Javier Magallon, a former Mist bartender, are both part of Webb's planned racketeering lawsuit against SFPD and ABC.