Campus police chief to retire

UC Berkeley Police Chief Mitchell Celaya has announced his decision to retire from UC at the end of the year.

Mitch Celaya

UC Police Chief Mitch Celaya ((Kalonica McQuesten photo)

“To say that the university has been a significant part of my life would be an understatement, and given my 30 years [on the force], my decision was not taken lightly,” he said in a recent message to campus colleagues.

Celaya joined the UC Police Department as an officer in 1982 and moved up the ranks from officer to lieutenant to captain to assistant chief, becoming chief in August 2009.

During his time on the force, Celaya dealt with scores of sensitive situations, including student protests and demonstrations, a 1992 assassination attempt on then-Chancellor Chang-Lin Tien and campus visits by numerous dignitaries, such as the Dalai Lama, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, former President Bill Clinton and Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

Celaya’s distinguished-service awards included the UC systemwide Meritorious Service Award, for his role in responding to the assassination attempt on Tien.

“Chief Celaya has served the UC Berkeley campus with distinction for 30 years,” wrote John Wilton, vice chancellor for administration and finance, and Ron Coley, associate vice chancellor for business and administrative services, in an Oct. 31 message to the campus community. “He has shown deep dedication to our campus and community, and we wish him all the best as he pursues his personal interests and focuses on his family.”

The campus will commence a nationwide search for his replacement. In the interim, Cap. Margo Bennett will serve as acting chief. Bennett has been a captain with UCPD for 10 years and has worked in federal and campus law enforcement for more than three decades.