Campus, city police form joint safety patrol

A new joint police patrol by the University of California Police Department and the Berkeley Police Department will target improving public safety at night in the city’s Southside neighborhoods as well as after UC Berkeley home football games.

The patrol is unique because it teams up in each of two squad cars one city and one campus police officer who will patrol neighborhoods near campus. Starting this semester, the patrols will take place Thursday through Saturday nights between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. Additional joint teams will be deployed before and after home football games.

Like all patrols city and campuswide, the new joint patrol’s main charge will be to suppress violent and other crimes and to keep the peace.

This collaborative approach will increase coordination between the two departments as well as improve communication with students and neighbors. In the past, some near-campus residents have called both departments separately for service, but now they will get a joint response from officers regularly assigned to the area and familiar with the community.

The idea for the Joint Southside Safety Patrol came from UC Berkeley Police Chief Mitch Celaya, Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan and the Chancellor’s Advisory Council on Student-Neighbor Relations, which includes student and neighborhood leaders, as well as senior officials from the campus and the city.

“The Joint Southside Safety Patrol is one way university and city police proactively partner to increase safety and livability in the Southside,” said UC Police Chief Mitch Celaya. “Both Chief Michael Meehan and I are working closely to improve public safety on and off campus.”

“This plan responds directly to our community’s desire for a safer and more civil Southside neighborhood. I am especially pleased that the city police dispatchers will be able to route calls from Southside neighbors directly to both the UCPD and BPD officers already in the vicinity and allow them to respond more quickly to problems,” said Vincent Casalaina, past-president of the Willard Neighborhood Association.

“Student safety, especially at night, is an ASUC priority, and we’re pleased that both police departments are working so closely to ensure the safety of Cal students,” said Kelly McDonnell, chief of staff to Noah Stern, president of the UC Berkeley chapter of Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC).

The joint patrol also overcomes jurisdictional constraints by allowing the police to coordinate directly with the UC Center for Student Conduct and Community Standards without delay. Students cited by campus or city police will have their information transferred to the center for possible additional disciplinary action within three days.

“Students know that the university’s Code of Student Conduct applies on and off campus, and that serious violations can jeopardize their student status,” said Assistant Dean Susan Trageser, who directs the center. “We expect that improved coordination between the police and our office may deter repeat violations and encourage students to be good neighbors.”

Because of the connection between alcohol consumption and students becoming victims of violent crime, the Joint Southside Safety Patrol will strictly enforce laws related to alcohol consumption, including underage drinking, use of false identification, public possession of open containers of alcohol, and public drunkenness.

Officers also will issue citations for loud and unruly parties or gatherings of 10 or more people that cause a significant neighborhood disturbance. These citations carry fines ranging from $750 to $2500 for subsequent violations during a 120-day period. Residences that are cited for repeat violations will have their addresses posted on the PartySafe@Cal Web site. The city will notify property owners and managers of the citations, since unpaid fines for citations issued to their tenants could result in liens being placed on the owners’ property.

“Students do not realize that drinking irresponsibly all too often leads to taking ill-advised risks and ending up in dangerous situations,” said Karen Hughes, director of PartySafe@Cal, a University Health Services program to reduce harm associated with drinking in the campus area. For their own safety, she advises students to carefully monitor their own drinking and to be responsible guests and hosts.

These law and ordinances have been enforced in the past, but the new joint patrols will more efficiently and consistently address all aspects of unlawful activity and allow for closer coordination between community partners — the officers, campus leaders, students and their Berkeley neighbors.

“Our focus is on making the Southside safer and more enjoyable for students and longtime residents, who live side by side,” said UC Berkeley Associate Chancellor Linda M. Williams, who chairs the advisory council.