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Parents hire private security to protect UC Berkeley students after police department budget cuts
Image Source: KABC video screenshot

Parents hire private security to protect UC Berkeley students after police department budget cuts

A group of parents with children enrolled at the University of California Berkeley recently took safety measures into their own hands by hiring private security guards amid a spike in crime near the campus, KPIX-TV reported.

A coalition of parents called SafeBears raised $40,000 last year to launch a three-week pilot program from March 6 to 23, 2024. The program hired six "safety ambassadors" to patrol the UC Berkeley campus from 6:30 p.m. to 3 a.m.

The safety ambassadors, who are unarmed, will patrol the campus on foot and by bicycle. According to SafeBears, the security guards have received CPR and de-escalation training.

SafeBears president Sagar Jethani wrote on Facebook, "They are a great group of folks. They're all from the East Bay/SF area, so they understand what's happening with crime in Berkeley."

"They are looking forward to meeting students and making them feel safe at night," Jethani stated.

According to the group, the security guards "will not enter university property" but "stick to public areas, including public streets and sidewalks."

Jethani told KABC, "They are not carrying any kind of defensive gear. They don't carry pepper spray, batons, or handcuffs."

In comments to KPIX, Jethani said that he wants the pilot program to "turn up the heat" on the administration and push it to enact greater safety measures.

"We want to show that we're not content to just wait forever to have these safety ambassadors deployed," he said.

SafeBears explained that the security guards' role is to "provide a physical deterrence to any threats against students."

"If they encounter a situation they feel is escalating, they are equipped with radios and can call for other ambassadors to assist. They also have a contact at Berkeley Police Department in the event the situation turns more serious," the group stated.

The parental coalition was formed last year amid concerns about student safety. According to the group, the University of California Police Department is struggling with reduced staffing and budget cuts.

"UC Berkeley has cut funding for UCPD every year since 2018," SafeBears said. "In that same period, nearly every other UC school has increased funding over 2018 levels."

The group claimed the department's budget last fall was "14% lower than it was in 2018."

Since then, the university has hired 10 additional officers; however, SafeBears noted that the department is still short-staffed.

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín (D) cut law enforcement's budget by over $9 million in 2020, the New York Post reported.

Once the private security guard pilot program concludes, the parents hope the university will opt to take over and continue the program.

Safe Bears: UC Berkeley parents hire private security group to make students saferyoutu.be

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