UC Berkeley hires private security firm after fatal shooting near campus stirs safety concerns
By James Queally
26 June 2015
The campus of the University of California, Berkeley, has hired a private security firm to help ensure the safety of students, faculty and staff on campus and surrounding neighborhoods, which has drawn the anger of students and faculty.
After a deadly attack on his campus, UC Berkeley police chief Michael Meehan announced that he was establishing a new department of Campus Alerts that would cover the safety of Berkeley students. These are typically private security guards, which have been used at other universities to protect students in the past.
“The new Campus Alerts will include campus police, first responders, emergency medical personnel and campus security,” Meehan said.
He pointed out on May 21 that he was moving the campus security team from the university police department to the newly formed Campus Alerts department, which Meehan said would provide enhanced security for students, faculty and staff.
However, Meehan’s announcement was met with outrage and calls for his resignation.
After a student fatally shot nine people in a rampage on the UC Berkeley campus three weeks ago, the university has been struggling to respond to the increasing numbers of threats and incidents at the campus.
As the attacks on the campus have become increasingly violent, particularly in the wake of the shooting, the university has had to move into new and expanded ways to protect students and staff from attack.
The incidents of violence and threat have also come to a head within the wider community. After a May 14 meeting of the Berkeley City Council failed to adopt a resolution condemning the violence on the campus and expressing support for students, the Council voted 6-4 against expressing support for the police department’s response to the attacks and the use of campus security teams.
Many students who were present at the meeting, including those who were victims of the shootings, supported the motion. But the Council’s decision is a slap in the face to the students and staff who have been targeted for their political views and who were in the meeting.
The police-students confrontation on May 21 resulted in police raiding the home of a Berkeley resident who had posted a number of threatening messages and also threatened to attack the