Joint campus-city police safety patrol resumes

Last year’s successful launch of a new joint police patrol by the University of California Police Department and the Berkeley Police Department to improve public safety at night in the city’s Southside neighborhood resumed Thursday night (Aug. 18).

Like all patrols city- and campus-wide, the Joint Southside Safety Patrol’s main charge is to suppress violent crime. It also is focused on what has been a challenging town/gown issue: unruly parties of 10 or more people in off-campus student rental housing and fraternities that create a significant public nuisance.

Police chiefs Mitch Celaya and Michael Meehan

The Joint Southside Safety Patrol originated with UC Berkeley Police Chief Mitch Celaya (left), Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan and the Chancellor's Advisory Council on Student-Neighbor Relations. (Berkeley Boosters photo)

Since its launch last August through mid-May of this year, the joint patrol received approximately 312 calls for service and issued 143 warning citations for noise complaints. Officers only had to return to 16 locations to cite repeat violations, which carry fines from $750 to $2,500 if issued within a 120-day period. Both campus and city officials agree that the joint patrols are effecting positive change.

“The relatively low number of repeat violations shows that the program is working,” said Caleb Dardick, director of UC Berkeley’s Local Government and Community Relations office.

City and campus police team up in two squad cars to cover the neighborhoods near campus Thursday through Saturday nights between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. Police officers may issue citations when they find violations of any kind, and this information is quickly shared with the campus’s Office of Student Conduct. Students, who receive the majority of the public nuisance citations, hear promptly from student conduct staff. 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.

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

Positive feedback from neighbors, students and campus administrators led to the decision by the two police departments to extend the pilot program for another year.