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Updates on campus policing initiatives

Dear campus community,

Strong relationships built on mutual trust between police departments and their communities are essential for maintaining public safety. Around the country, however, police departments are struggling with damaged relations between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve – particularly communities of color. Berkeley is no exception. As chief of police for Berkeley UCPD, I believe it is my responsibility to strengthen the divide between my department and the campus, ensuring that our officers collaborate with and are responsive to the community; that we educate citizens on how and why we police; that we use alternatives to enforcement when possible; and that we endeavor to understand and counter the racism that has corroded goodwill between police and communities of color.

Berkeley’s Principles of Community provide important and foundational guidance in this regard, and I reaffirm our police department’s commitment to them. We believe that teaching, research and public service flourish when we promote the safety and well-being of everyone in our campus community. UCPD officers abide by these principles as the foundation of our service.

With the support of Chancellor Carol Christ, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos, and Vice Chancellor for Administration Marc Fisher, I am taking a series of actions designed to create a more connected, transparent, and healthy relationship between UCPD and the campus community. These actions are described below:

Creating a Community Engagement Unit
As chief of police, I have begun restructuring Berkeley’s police department to include a new unit devoted specifically to community engagement. This unit will focus primarily on developing a sustainable program of liaisons and partnerships within our diverse community. Our main goals for the unit are to increase two-way communication with students, staff and faculty members; and to incorporate procedural justice principles into our relationship with the campus.

Within this unit, and in collaboration with community partners, UCPD will identify a new staff member who will build a program of restorative justice and implement departmental practices consistent with this philosophy. Restorative justice is a criminal justice theory that focuses not on punishment, but on rehabilitating offenders through reconciliation with victims.

Using community collaboration in the selection of new, key UCPD personnel
UCPD is dedicated to building campus and community participation into the police department’s process for hiring new officers and staff members. Over the course of the next few months, my office will work closely with Chief People & Culture Officer Eugene Whitlock to develop a system that brings community partners into the process.

Implementing recommendations from UC’s Presidential Task Force on Universitywide Policing
As a core member of UC President Janet Napolitano’s 2018 systemwide campus policing task force, I am working closely with VC Fisher, the systemwide Vice Chancellors of Administration and the UC Council of Chiefs to implement the task force’s recommendations into our police and campus practices. The recommendations cover such policing topics as use of force reviews, complaint investigation policies and practices, and community engagement efforts. One of the recommendations identified the need for each campus to create an independent community advisory board. Chancellor Christ worked with VC Fisher to establish this advisory board earlier this year, and it is being led by Professor of African American Studies Nikki Jones and graduate student Rachel Roberson.

Building stronger connections with campus bodies
Members of my department and I truly welcome the opportunity to participate in meetings and listening sessions with campus and community groups – last year, for instance, I attended a number ofmeetings of the ASUC Senate to hear their questions and concerns, and to keep them apprised of important law enforcement developments. Please feel free to write to me at if you wish to invite me or another UCPD representative to meet with your group.

In addition, the UCPD leadership team and I will continue to ensure that our officers undergo continuous training so that they are performing in a way that protects the safety of our community members and is sensitive to the needs of Berkeley’s diverse population. Earlier this month, for example, officers and campus partners participated in a training that focused on strategies and practices to avoid conflict as well as de-escalate when conflict occurs.

Goldman School of Public Policy Collaboration
Our police department has embarked on a project with faculty members in the Goldman School’s People Lab to evaluate hiring practices and recommend ways to more effectively recruit and retain a diverse officer workforce. We extended invitations to the other campus UCPDs and have also welcomed UCI, UCSC, UCSD and UCSF into this project.

Conducting an external audit of UCPD policies and procedures related to campus interactions
The US Department of Justice Critical Reform Initiative Technical Assistance Center (CRI-TAC) recently approved our campus’s request to audit UCPD’s community engagement efforts. This audit will cover a number of topics related to police engagement with the community including crisis intervention; de-escalation; interaction with homeless populations; recruitment; hiring and retention; youth engagement; use of force; mass demonstration response; implicit bias; and interactions with people with disabilities, undocumented students, the LGBTQ+ community, and people of color. CRI-TAC will assign police chiefs from across the country to conduct this audit and provide an assessment report along with their recommendations for moving our police department forward. We commit to making this report public when it is completed.

As chief of police, I am deeply committed to leading a department steeped in the values of Berkeley’s Principles of Community and aligned with UCPD policies and procedures. Should the need arise, I also want the community to know that there are many avenues through which individuals can provide feedback, voice a concern or file a complaint about any member of our department. Please see below for a list of options:

Thank you so much for your support as we continue to roll out these significant changes to the structure, culture, and strategy of our campus police department. I hope that with your help and guidance, we can reaffirm our department’s commitment to a vision of policing that is rooted in engagement, respect, and trust between UCPD officers and the diverse campus community that we serve.


Margo Bennett
Chief of Police

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