The Federated University Police Officers Association’s Response to Recent Incidents at UC Berkeley and UC Davis

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To the University of California campus community:

The past few weeks have been very challenging for our police officers as well as our campus community.  Our ten campus police departments throughout the state have experienced numerous protests on all of our campuses.  Tensions have been high for our students who have been experiencing record number of tuition fee hikes.  Faculty and staff have had to deal with not receiving the monetary compensation they feel they deserve for their hard work along with many other issues.  Some UC department staff members have been laid off while others are concerned with the possibility of layoffs due to budget constraints.  Needless to say, our UC faculty and students are dealing with a tremendous amount of stress.  Your police officers are no different and are not immune to these budget challenges.

Our UC President, Regents and chancellors have been challenged and have had to make very difficult decisions during these hard financial times.  They have to be fiscally responsible with the budget that is handed down to them by the governor of California and then determine how that money is to be distributed to all of our campuses.  They have to do their best to maintain some of the finest and most well respected faculty in the nation, maintain a professional support staff and keep the UC campuses as some of the most sought after universities for our students.

The UC Police Department as well as the UC community has always valued the right to free speech.  UCPD have often made accommodations to ensure that an individual’s right to free speech is not infringed upon.  Our UC Police Department management team often reaches out to our protesters in an attempt to maintain a safe environment for everyone.  Our protesters vary from students, faculty and staff as well as the Occupy Movement members.  The issues that are protested vary across the board.

We encourage our campus community to protest in a peaceful manner as long as they feel necessary and we will defend that right to do so.  I think you will also find out that most of our officers often agree with the issues that many of you are protesting about.  However, we request that the rules and regulations of the University of California along with state laws be respected.  We also request not to interfere with the day-to-day operations of the university.  There are still a lot of students, faculty and staff out there who simply want to come to work or continue on with their education without fear of disruption.  We should all respect this.

Now I would like to address the recent controversy surrounding the UC Berkeley and UC Davis police departments in dealing with recent protests on their respective campuses.  Many members of the campus community have been quick to comment on the recent events at these campuses.

On behalf of the members of the Federated University Police Officer Association, we acknowledge the videos of recent protests at UC Berkeley and UC Davis are not pleasant to watch.  However, we are asking the community to not rush to judgment and instead wait until a complete investigation is done and all of the actions of all parties are revealed before judgment is passed.

I appreciate UC President Yudoff’s decision to hire Bill Bratton as an independent consultant to investigate the incident at UC Davis due to the high profile nature of this incident.  There is currently a review of campus policy and procedures being conducted by each Chief from each campus and they are working closely with the chancellors along with other senior administrators at each campus.

I can assure you all that our police officers are dedicated to ensuring the safety of the campus community.  Our police officers put their safety on the line for their community every day.  They become targets just because of the uniform that they wear.  A recent example of this is the recent officer involved shooting of a subject who was brandishing a firearm at officers at the UC Berkeley campus.

A UC Berkeley staff member saw a man with a gun and reported it to police.  Your UC Berkeley police did not run the other way or even wait for outside police agencies to respond before taking any type of action.  Your UC Berkeley Police Department quickly responded to a call for help from one of your fellow campus community members.  They did this knowing that due to the severity of this type of call, they may never return to their own families.  This shooting happened at a time where UC Berkeley police officers had recently been harshly criticized because of the way they handled the protestors on November 9th.  They already were feeling like there was a lack of support by the UC administration but because of their professionalism and dedication to the campus community’s safety, they responded quickly to this deadly confrontation while putting their own lives on the line.

This officer involved shooting was also caught on video surveillance like the other incidents noted above.  But even with the initial witness statements with about fourteen of your fellow campus community members and four other UC Berkeley PD officers, there is still a long and thorough investigation that’s needs to be conducted.  This process often can take months to fully investigate even though this was caught on video surveillance.

I am sure that this video surveillance footage would also be difficult for any of you to watch, but your safety is our number one priority.  Police work is not always pretty and one can only speculate how many lives may have been saved due to your UC Berkeley Police Department’s quick response to this situation.

Again, I would ask the campus community to await the results of the investigation.  Please be patient and let our UC administrators, independent consultant and Chief’s of Police conduct their investigations and review of our policies and procedures as we all may find out there may be more to each story than what we all initially see on video for a few minutes.

Sincerely,

Andrew Lopez

FUPOA President

University of California Irvine Police Department

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