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OccupyCal and UCPD’s Management

Chris Hoofnagle, professor of law in residence | November 14, 2011

In grappling with the events of last week, we might consider whether a shift in police management could lead to a change in the UCPD’s behavior.

The UCPD has an oversight body, the Police Review Board, which has faculty, student, and community representation. However, management of the UCPD is entrusted to the Vice Chancellor for Administration, the newly appointed John Wilton.

Chancellor Wilton has the very difficult job of running the financial matters of our complex campus, and a cursory review of his website shows that he is also responsible for a vast array of offices and functions on campus.  Chancellor Wilton joined Berkeley from the World Bank, and our former lead administrator hailed from JP Morgan.

Many colleges and universities have embraced professional managers to great benefit. Nevertheless, I think it is worth asking whether policing and police policy should be left to such management. There are many nuanced policy issues involved in police management and supervision. Some are not so nuanced, but seemed lost upon the UCPD. For instance, at peer institutions, it is understood that campus police serve in loco parentis, and shield students from the consequences of minor transgressions.  Preventing other agencies from abusing students should be a high priority.

The long term interest of Berkeley is not served well by the spectacles generated by last week’s beatings by outside law enforcement on our campus, or in the criminalization of student behavior generally. They are embarrassing to our campus. An academic manager of the UCPD, be it the Provost or the many faculty on campus with expertise in police supervision, would understand the special context we operate in, and the special duties we owe to students.

I do not mean this to be a critique of any individual administrator. I merely suggest that our management structure may not be optimized to attune the UCPD to the nuances of policing on a college campus. A change in management structure could create corresponding changes in the tone and behavior of the UCPD.