Campus & community, People, Milestones, Campus news

Chief Margo Bennett announces retirement from UCPD

By Public Affairs

Vice Chancellor for Administration Marc Fisher issued the following message on Monday:

After a long and distinguished career in law enforcement, Margo Bennett approached me this past summer expressing her intention to retire in June of 2022 as Chief of Police of the UC Berkeley Police Department (UCPD). With both the Chancellor’s Reimagining Public Safety Plan in its early phase of implementation and UC President Michael Drake’s UC Community Safety Plan still in design, Margo assured me she intended to stay in order to help launch those two important initiatives and continue to provide stability and focus to the UCPD as these initiatives rolled out. Margo remains committed to UCPD in order to navigate the department during one of the most historical times in policing. I am now sharing with you Margo’s decision to retire in June of 2022.

During her tenure at Berkeley, Margo has done an exemplary job leading UCPD through challenging budgetary constraints and the global pandemic. Margo has been a collaborative thought partner and innovative leader for many years.

Margo joined UCPD as Captain in 2002 after a decade of service with the FBI followed by serving as Chief of Police for Northern Virginia Community College Police Department, the nation’s second-largest community college system. After a decade on the Berkeley campus, Margo’s performance and the confidence that campus leadership and her officers had in her made her an obvious choice to become our Chief of Police in 2013.

Margo’s commitment to the safety of the UC Berkeley community during her tenure as Chief is truly impressive. In the last eight years leading our department, she has made her mark in the area of community engagement:

  • She has recommended leading-edge practices for community policing;
  • She commissioned a campus-wide survey on UCPD service to the community;
  • She instituted peer-review processes with other university police departments;
  • She identified and developed liaison officers to work with community groups; and
  • She engaged campus and community representatives in the hiring of new officers.

On the administrative side, Margo enhanced the on-boarding process for new officers to get them acquainted with the communities they will serve before they begin, increased community representation in the training of officers and police leadership programs on diversity and inclusion, implemented technology for real-time campus feedback and redesigned the UCPD website with an abundance of data, reports, and statistics to further promote transparency.

On the systemwide level, Margo championed the elimination of the use of the carotid chokehold (a component of the 8Can’tWait initiative ) at all UC campuses, a critical element in the systemwide policing reform effort underway. In addition, she has partnered effectively with the Cities of Berkeley, Oakland, Albany and Santa Cruz to collaboratively address mutual community needs and concerns. UCPD is a respected agency in Alameda County due in large part to Margo’s commitment to training and partnership in addressing county-wide issues.

Perhaps most important and exciting in terms of keeping our campus safe and healthy, Margo collaborated with other campus leaders in developing a mental health response team that will rely primarily on mental health professionals and not uniformed officers to serve and support community members in crisis. Finally, under Margo’s leadership, UCPD has worked to embody the Principles of Community that we all aspire to at Berkeley.

Margo is staying on as chief through June 2022 while we launch an extensive search for her replacement. In the coming weeks, I will announce plans for an inclusive process that draws on interested stakeholders and representatives from the campus community to begin a representative search.

In the meantime, please join me in extending to Margo our sincere gratitude for her dedication and loyalty to the UC Berkeley campus and our best wishes to Margo on her well-deserved retirement.